Utah’s economy is hot hot hot and vacancy rates for apartments, office space and retail space are about as rare as the Steak Tartare at the Paris Bistro. Here’s the good news in what to look forward to in our city…with just a side of sad. Closures bring new beginnings though, right?  The gourmet hot dog shop next to Juniors Tavern will now be a Greek souvlaki joint. After 19 years downtown Iggy’s sports bar has shut their doors at the Pioneer Park location. Their lease was up in the Homestead Suites and they opted not to renew. All their other locations along the Wasatch front are doing great.  Ken Milo’s ‘DOPO’ Italian restaurant has been closed for months at the Gateway with a sign in the door saying their chef died. The pastry case has had the same sweets molding in the cold case all summer long. ‘Twist’ restaurant and bar has opened in Exchange Place across from Maxfields. Bad Ass Coffee is moving to the vacated deli at the entrance to American Towers Condos.

        That aweful fenced-up eyesore just east of the Bourbon House on 200 South (formerly an Eat A Burger) is going to be a hotel. Owners have bought and parceled together pieces of land around the building and will put up a little boutique place similar to a Hotel Monaco.  The new digs will sit at the entrance to the new Regent Street entertainment alley being built behind the mega-performing arts theater that will open in the Fall of 2016. The Bay Leaf restaurant on Main Street will soon have a new cafe from Park City. Patrons will pick from all fresh ingredients on the menu and the chefs will create a meal for you from your choices.  The ‘Chamber of Commerce’ building on 400 South was built over a plaza in an architectural style which made it look much like a popsicle. The owners of the building have decided to build out the main floor where a new tenant (24 Fitness) that will take up a big glassed-in space and make the building square and appear more active to people who drive or walk by the place. Disney gaming has taken up several of the top floors in the past six months so the gym will have almost an instant clientele of night owls.ori

        The original Northwest Pipeline building known later as the Salt Lake Public Safety Building on 200 South has been standing vacant for a few years now. It’s a classic mid-century modern design known as a corporate “International Style”, similar to the First Security Bank Building  (now the Ken Garff Building) on 400 South. The Utah Heritage Foundations wants us all to save the former cop shop. The city’s Housing and Neighborhood Development Division wants to help turn it into affordable housing units with shops on the main floor, so watch for opportunities for public feedback because affordable housing is a rare commodity these days. Salt Lake City has reported that ‘we need over 8200 affordable housing units NOW’.

Our Capitol Hill

The Utah State Legislature is having special meetings to determine all the details for the upcoming move of the State Prison from Draper to west of the Salt Lake Airport. Grab your wallets and your morals and hide! Utah is known for it’s really short normal legislative session (Jan. 26 to March 12) and for two past Attorney General’s currently being prosecuted for a number of naughty things.

  The Capitol building is a great/free place to visit and is pretty much open every day from @8 a.m. until 6 p.m. unless it’s a state or major national holiday. The building itself took four years to construct during 1912-1916. It was designed by Richard Kletting in the Neoclassical revival, Corinthian style. Funny though, the state capitol was originally in the smack dab middle of the state in Filmore, Utah. It turns out that Salt Lake City was a much better place to bring leaders together in a town with better food, housing and transportation and in 1856 the Utah Territorial Legislature met and decided to abandon poor little Filmore and move to Salt Lake City. For years legislators met in the Salt Lake City Council Hall and by 1909 we were one of the few states that didn’t have a capitol building to show off to visitors. Then Governor Spry was able to eek out $1 million in bonds from the elected officials but needed plenty more money. Oddly enough, more funds came from death taxes.  It appears that when the Union Pacific Railroad Pres. died in 1909, his widow had to pay a 5% inheritance tax to the state of Utah which turned out to be $798,546. That was like a billion dollars back then! Once the money was in hand the land had to be found. The building was almost placed by Ft. Douglas but then put on Capitol Hill. Property owners up there charged the state a fortune to give up their parcels. A giant steam shovel came in, a little train track was built up City Creek Canyon to haul dirt and and another was built to Alta to bring in the granite rock.

    If you go up to the Capitol building for a  visit (the views of the valley are terrific from up there and it’s only 4 blocks straight up a hill from downtown on State Street), go visit the Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum next door (west of it) at 300 North Main. Their hours are Fridays from 9-5 but closed Sundays.  It’s a funky little place that stores turn of the century Valentines, hair jewelry and pioneer artifacts.

No smoking!

It’s not likely that Utah will see legal/recreational pot use in the near future.  However the Utah Legislature did pass a law last year and the Governor signed it to allow a tincture of sorts to be used by people with intractable epileptic disorders and to use CBD oils if certified to do so by their neurologists. So in a nutshell, smoking dope is illegal in Utah.

   Interesting questions arise when it comes to rental properties and smoking in general in the property. Landlords and condo HOA/Boards can and do put into leases and CCR’s that ‘no smoking’ is allowed on the premisis, but what about ‘vaping’?  Real estate lawyers around the country are trying to keep up with the changing laws and recommend to landlords that ‘the more you spell out in your lease agreement with your tenant the more protected you are’.   Just because your lease or HOA says no smoking is allowed, I’ll bet it has no language specifically about marijuana or cannabis.

   To make your lease more precise as a landlord, write in that ‘cooking, growing or smoking or vaping any illegal substance is strictly prohibited on the property’. Both tobacco and pot smokers have moved to the new trend of ‘vaping’. Vapor pens look like ‘Tiparillo’ cigars and have cartridges of tobacco or pot (with or without flavorings) to smoke via electric/water generated steam instead of smoke.

   Smoke shops in Utah do not have any regulations yet on vaping and what’s in the cartridges except that they can’t sell any form of marijuana-based products. There is currently no quality control over the contents of vapor pens by the FDA/government either. The Pew Research center reported last year that 52% of Americans support legalizing pot but the odds are if Utah citizens were polled they would be much less supportive of legalizing marijuana use. We’ve had several clients of our brokerage sell their homes in Utah to move to Colorado last year just because they simply wanted to live in a state where smoking/using marijuana was legal.