Long-vacant site of demolished building on Broadway Downtown hits market with longer lease

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The owner of a Downtown property home to a building that sat vacant for decades before being demolished is now on the market with a longer-term ground lease that’s likely to attract a developer looking to build a hotel or apartments on the site.

The owners of the site that was formerly home to the Yardstick building have long sought to lease out the property for no more than 60 years. They failed to find investors who were willing or able to agree, with developers preferring a longer lease or outright ownership to a mid-term ground lease.

The building, once home to a theater at 40-52 E. 300 S. in the heart of Downtown, sat vacant and was vandalized repeatedly. It was severely burned in September 2022. Crews moved to demolish the building last November and are actively backfilling the hole left behind.

This week, the broker for the property updated the listing to include the option to lease the 0.6-acre property for up to 99 years.

“It was hard for groups to get financing for the 60-year [lease],” said Charlie Davis, executive director of Cushman & Wakefield in Utah. “It’s a little easier to get financing for the 99-year” lease.

Courtesy of Cushman & Wakefield.

If a tenant wants the property for 60 years, the lease would cost $150,000 annually. If they want it for 90 years, they’ll pay $250,000 a year. Those rates are lower than market-rate, Davis said.

“There’s an incentive there to do the lease,” Davis said. “On the developer’s side it just makes it easier to get a Downtown CBD project.”

One source in the development community told us the change made the property “much more intriguing.”

The property is in the D-1 zone, which could require a minimum of 100 feet in height. There’s no maximum height for the property, which is also within an opportunity zone.

Davis said the owners are from Taiwan and have a presence in Utah and California. State records show the ownership group includes Joseph Yen and Sandra, Tommy and Wendy Lin. Davis said the family is focused on ownership for generations.

The group bought the building in 1990 using a loan for $460,000, according to county records.

“We’ve had offers on purchases or sales and they just turn it down,” Davis said. “We just had a convo recently with the past couple weeks to talk about even considering a sale and couldn’t do it.”

Editor’s Note: After this story was published, the terms of the listing were changed. This story has been changed to reflect the updated terms of the listing.

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Posted by Taylor Anderson

Taylor Anderson grew up near Chicago and made his way West to study journalism at the University of Montana. He's been a staff writer for the Chicago Tribune, Bend Bulletin and Salt Lake Tribune. A move from Portland, Oregon, to Salt Lake City opened his eyes to the importance of good urban design for building strong neighborhoods. He lives on the border of the Liberty Wells and Ballpark neighborhoods.