The University of Utah is under contract on a building that could become Downtown campus

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The University of Utah is under contract on a building in the heart of Downtown Salt Lake City for what would likely become an expanded presence in the heart of the city, several sources have told Building Salt Lake.

The building, a 236,000-square-foot building at 175 East 400 South, was listed for sale in October as the Seattle-based Unico Properties continued winding down its presence in the city.

Sources had said the university was looking for space that was near Downtown Salt Lake City and connected to transit. Its other primary driver was finding space within a safe neighborhood, according to multiple sources. 

The talks lingered for years and included possible moves to the Rio Grande neighborhood and the Granary District before the sources said the school went under contract at City Centre. 

Representatives from the University of Utah didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

City Centre offered a large and aging office building with an adjacent 1.8-acre parking lot. It presents an opportunity for the university to move in quickly and potentially add student housing immediately next door.

Cushman & Wakefield listed the City Centre office building, formerly home to the Salt Lake Chamber, for an undisclosed price. 

The office building was built in 1986 and is less than 50 percent occupied, following a trend of high office vacancy rates for dated buildings with dated layouts and amenities. The remaining tenants, including a Planet Fitness on the corner of 200 E. 400 S., had an average of four years left on their leases when the building was listed.

City Centre’s occupancy rate cratered after departures by the Salt Lake Chamber to another building Downtown and the Salt Lake City office of the software vendor Workday, which defected to the suburbs.

The university also owns land closer to the Rio Grande neighborhood, and it’s not clear what it might decide to do with it if the sale of City Centre goes through.

Cushman presented the listing as a possible office-upgrade option, a development site for condos, apartments, student housing or hotels, or an office-to-residential conversion.

Unico considered selling the building and parking lot separately. The location is within an Opportunity Zone.

The university would look to occupy the existing building, sources said. 

Email Taylor Anderson

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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.