Tile for Less

Urban Living

I’m not one to go shopping. My wife likes to gather groceries and finds my involvement more annoying than helpful. I rarely go online, and I’ve never been in or dropped a dime in a Walmart. I try to make an impact on my local economy by supporting local businesses whenever possible and I ask my clients to do the same. During my college days, I discovered Jolley’s Drug where I filled my prescriptions. Back then, they were known as Jolley’s Rexall Drug and located in the 9th and 9th neighborhood. It was the first pharmacy that customized compound (hand-mixed and blended) medications in probably 100 years in Salt Lake. In 1991, the Jolley brothers opened a store on 1300 South and 1700 East. Then in 1996, the 9th and 9th pharmacy closed and moved to the 1700 East location where they ran a pharmacy and a Top Hat Video rental store (think VHS tapes). The video store died as tapes went by the way of the dodo but both pharmacy locations (the other at 1100 East and 1700 South) have become beacons of their neighborhoods for not just meds but cute tchotchkes. Often, my only gift shopping comes from this small pharmacy.I’m a super loyal shopper and one of the main reasons I support this family-owned store is because during the AIDS crisis, they were the only folks who treated my friends who carried the disease with kindness. The chain grocery store around the corner made my friends put on masks and would not even shake their hands. Jolley’s people were understanding and went overboard to find the best bargains on the first drugs available to help those suffering.As I picked up my script the other day from Dean at the 1700 South store, bought a greeting card, got a question answered from Hanna and was rung up by acerbically funny Beth, I was grateful that a local store still doing well—and not being bulldozed by developers. Across the street is the original Westminster College gymnasium, then later, the Salt Lake Costume Co. It’s been gutted and turned into high-end apartments, but just like Jolley’s, there’s a bit of nostalgia still in the signage there. The original Salt Lake Costume Co. sign lives on and has been restored and replaced to light up the corner across from the drug store.Sometimes, you read about it or talk with your friends about how you hate the fact your favorite little store or bodega closed, or bemoan the loss of a cute building or sign. Salt Lake City updated sign codes in 2018 to save historic and iconic signage around the city. Stop in at Jolley’s at 1100 East and 1700 South and shop and check out the sign across the street. Or check out their location on 1300 South and 1700 East and the Emigration Market sign across the way.

Women’s History

Women have two celebrations going on right now in Utah: 1) how we got the right to vote on local and national ballots 150 years ago and 2) that Girl Scouts was established here (in Ogden) 100 years ago!  You might be hearing a lot right now about Suffragettes and the Equal Rights Amendment in the news or even see women standing outside the Utah State Capitol building dressed in 1800’s garb with green and purple sashes with the words VOTES FOR WOMEN across their chests.  If you’ve missed all of this, here’s a bit of history that’s relevant today in so many ways: Suffragettes were the militants of their day (early 20th century) who fought for the right to vote in public elections. They were most noticed in first world countries because they had the best press coverage of their marches, heckling, hunger strikes and civil disobedience. Women were brutalized by police and arrested for organizing and then held hunger strikes in prison where they then were force fed with metal funnels shoved in their mouths to keep them alive. It was an ugly time for women and the men who loved them, and after decades and decades of protests and through perseverance, Congress ratified the 19th amendment to our constitution in 1920 giving women the right to vote. Huzzah!  Utah has a different legacy though, women in the Utah ‘Territory’ were unanimously granted the right to vote in 1870, one year after Wyoming women received the same right and then again by Congress in 1920-twice!Utah women are rising up to say we want the U.S. Constitution changed to say that women are guaranteed equal rights regardless of sex (the Constitution’s wording only uses the MALE pronoun). That battle started in the 1970’s and according to recent poles over 70% of Utah women want the Constitution changed.  This voting battle is happening all around our country now, so pay attention, people! Elect representatives who support the ERA!When I started my career in real estate, women had only recently been able to buy a home without a husband as a co-signer or get a credit card in their own name. Federal Fair Housing laws were passed in 1975 that struck down sex discrimination in lending and home buying, but even into the 1980’s it was still hard with some lenders for women to get loans. And God forbid, if TWO women wanted to buy a home together? Most lenders could barely stand the thought of loaning to lesbians or even to a mother and daughter! They had grant loans to women by law, but many files got pushed to the bottom of the stack. I had one client who was a lesbian and African American back then, unmarried, who the lender at the time put through the ringer to get her home loan. She finally got approved but it seemed like her loan took 10 times longer than other clients I was working with at the time (both male or female). Through the feminist movement in the 1970’s and the wave of vocal advocates for women’s rights we can buy homes and get credit on our own today.


I finished out high school at Wasatch Academy in Sanpete County. I was sent to this small private school to ‘reform’. I graduated with dreams of going to medical school and got accepted to the University of Utah. Sadly, I lasted like two quarters there because the classrooms were filled with hundreds of students and I was used to classes with 5-10 people at the most. Friends I’d gone to school with before had enrolled at Westminster … ‘the party school’ and encouraged me to switch over. I did, and ended up graduating twice with two B.S. degrees in Behavioral Sciences/English and Business Marketing with an Art minor. I partied so much the first four years I had to go back and get another degree! I lived in the dorms for a few years and across the street was this scary but beautiful privately owned compound/greenspace called Allen Park. There were a few rental cabins in that 7-acres that went for like 80% less than market value back then. But a tenant had to put up with a constant barrage of people like me wandering around in there mentally altered looking at all the weird sculptures the original owner had put in, feeding the remaining peacocks and birds wandering around and hunting for ghosts and hobbits. Yup, the place was full of ghosts and hobbits. I know I saw misty apparitions several times with friends, but we never saw hobbits. Allan Park was the creation of Dr. George Allen who loved birds and back in the 1930’s he was a well known man of means who served on the Salt Lake Zoological Society and helped start Hogle Zoo and get it’s animals there from what is now Tracy Aviary. He put in ponds, fountains, birdcages and mosaic artworks all over his large chunk of land with religious and spiritual sayings. Long story made short, the family had died off and is about to be bulldozed for up to 60 new high end homes. The developer, Rinaldo Hunt wants to preserve the pieces of art that are salvageable and allow for public greenspace (think east to west trail through the property). He’s got a battle ahead of him because neighbors, who’s homes now have great financial value due to the rise in property sales, LOVE the green spaces behind their homes along Emigration Creek on each side of the park on Westminster and Downington Avenue above 1300 East. They don’t want to see high density homes in there. His design team says he wants 7.5 units per acre.  The loss of beautiful old and healthy trees and birdlife is a real concern in a city that battles dirty air. There are many meetings for community input with the Sugar House Community Council and later with Salt Lake City Planning and Zoning. If you live in the area and know weird old dilapidated Alan Park and love every odd bit and tree in there, pay attention and get to the meetings or follow the Community Council online.  BTW, it’s fenced off now, so no hobbit hunting for you!

1, 2, 3…

Next month you will get an envelope from the government that isn’t your tax refund. Instead, it’s a notice about the 2020 Census which you can fill out and mail or go online to complete. And if you don’t do one of those options a census taker will come a knockin’ on your door to ask you a bunch of questions.  Don’t start looking for the nearest exit-this is a normal thing that happens in this country every 10 years and is mandated by our Constitution and thus required by law for all of us to answer/respond. The Bureau can impose fines for failing to answer or intentionally providing false information.For example?  How many people are living in your home as of April 1, 2020? This is to help the government count the entire U.S. population.  Is this a house, apartment or mobile home and if this home is owned by you is there a mortgage on the home? This information helps produce statistics about homeownership and renting. Ownership has a direct indication of our economic health. In an ideal world, renting stats can help increase/create housing programs. A mortgage is most often public record and the census taker can look up an address to determine who holds the mortgage. What’s your phone number? They may call later to clarify information or ask for more specific information.  The Census Bureau wants to know the name of the person who pays the rent or mortgage and the sex of that person. Why? Again, to create statistics to better understand where different age groups live. One of the contentious questions this year is ‘Is the person paying rent or mortgage of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin?’  The Bureau states that they “Want to get answers to this question to help federal agencies monitor compliance with anti-discrimination provisions such as those in the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act.” Many folks think that this is an excuse for the government to ferret out illegal aliens and go after them, which is denied by officials constantly. There is a separate question about the person’s race-which can be White, Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Chinese, Filipino, Asian Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, other Asian, Native Hawaiian, Samoan, Chamorro, other Pacific Islander or ‘some other race’. U.S. census takers get @$15 per hour and they are wanting to hire 5,000 Utahns to head count/knock on doors. The application is on line and they are really hoping to get a lot of temp employees this year who are bilingual who will work in their own towns to go door to doors of those who don’t respond or to track down Native Americans in extremely rural areas. Flexible hours, paid training and weekly paychecks to count heads isn’t a bad job and training starts ASAP.Fill it out, people! Conspiracy theories about the census are rampant but hey, it gets us better federal funding in many areas and could get us more representation in congress!To find out more about what’s coming in the mail or to apply: go to www.2020census.gov

We’re “Moving Up” to our new offices at The Gateway!

Over the years, we’ve had great fun hosting parties and gatherings at the sprawling 6,000+ sq. ft. space in the historic Dakota Lofts building. But because as realtors we’re always on the go showing new homes to our clients, we don’t spend much time sitting behind a desk and we don’t actually need such a big office.

Our new space is in the heart of The Gateway – in Suite 102 – up the escalator and just above The Store (a locally-owned gourmet specialty market).

Mark your calendar to join us for our Grand Opening on March 12, 2020 at our new offices at the Gateway! More details on the grand opening event coming soon!

As always you can reach us anytime via phone, text or email. 801-595-8824.

Urban Utah Homes & Estates, 102 South Rio Grande Street, Salt Lake City, Utah 84101


God forbid you might be an employer right now, trying to hire worker bees who might actually show up to an interview, better…get hired and stay for a while. Can we say that Salt Lake City is in a crisis mode and we’re teetering on a really big problem this next decade? Examples I’ve heard of recently: 1) a company here just opening at a local mall needs 160 employees. They’ve been able to recruit 60; 2) landscapers are paying illegals $15 an hour for manual labor. That’s the going rate for those folks hanging around the entrances to the parking lots of Home Depot. Friend of mine tells me he can’t hire any of them for less than that amount; 3) restauranteur buddy puts ads out, gets no calls. Offering starting wages in the kitchen $12.50-$15 per hour; 4) a manager at UPS tells me he hired one worker who after two days of delivering boxes and packages walked off the job and left the keys in the brown van, with the motor running; 5) a small business owner I know says that when they do place and ad, hires a new employee, that employee doesn’t show up ever again and won’t return calls; and finally 6) another friend tells me that restaurant managers are cannibalizing their neighbors restaurants and offering competitors employees “$1.00-$2.00 more an hour if you come and work for us!”. If you can’t find people to work for you, then you might have to do their jobs, right? So many of my friends who own small businesses are tearing out their hair doing their management jobs and the work of their employees-some doing 15 hours a day.  There’s no quality of life when you’re working that many hours. And if you’re over worked, you’re not going out to restaurants, enjoying movies and local entertainment, buying new cars or houses. YOU HAVE NO TIME. This is scary. And to back that up the U.S. Chamber of Commerce just validated in their recent job report is that Utah has only two workers for every three jobs. Do you wonder why Governor Gary Herbert wrote Donald Trump and simply said, “Send UTAH your refugees!”  The U.S.C.C. reported that as of June 2019 there were 81,333 available jobs per month with only 57,071 workers to fill those jobs. The state’s ‘Worker Availability Ratio’ (available workers per open position) was the 5th lowest in the nation during that period (North Dakota topped the list with the least number of workers per position at 0.51). The report added that Utah’s job market is over 80% tighter that it was a decade ago. The U.S.C.C. says that they are ‘Working to close both the skills gap and the people gap in the American workforce in numerous ways including education and talent development programs, immigration and labor policy research and advocacy. Homeland Security reported that 1,096,611 people obtained lawful permanent resident stats in 2018 for the entire country. If we divvied up those people to fifty states that’s @22,000 per state. That would still be half of what we need.

Free Fares

A world traveling friend of mine told me that the price of gasoline in several cities in Europe is like $10 per gallon. Given that, citizens ride bikes and use mass transit. Some places have even gone the route of free-far or zero-fare public transport funded by national or local government taxes or even private sponsorship by corporations. Kansas City, Missouri announced last month that it was going to make bus rides free to the public in 2020. That’s free all the time, saving people $1.50 per ride and $50 per month in the hopes more people will use the service, travel to areas they might not have gone to without a car and help get more marginalized folks places they would not be able to afford more often. Salt Lake City has a free fare zone that is poorly advertised and had been used frequently by people staying in and around the Road Home to get to social services and the main library in the winter where it’s warm during the day. It’s basically the area between the Central Station for all things transit on 600 West and goes up by the Area and South Temple to Main Street and finally the Courthouse state on 500 South. It’s perfect for people who work downtown to jump on a bus or TRAX to get lunch at the Gateway or shop at City Creek but it is the only free fare zone in Utah that I’m aware of.  There were two free fare days paid for by the Salt Lake City Mayor’s Office, Davis County and Intermountain Healthcare Feb. 28 and March 1 to help ease the pollution and introduce more people to the benefits of using public transportation.                The biggest complaint people have about UTA is that they can’t easily get to their home to a bus stop or TRAX station. Viola! UTA created VIA last November. Heard about it? Used it yet? It’s UTA On-Demand operating out of the south part of Salt Lake County in Bluffdale, Draper, Herriman, Riverton and SOJO.  It’s a one year experiment to enhance connectivity. You download the Via app and you are able to ‘hail’ a small UTA shuttle bus to get passengers to stops to catch the available transportation. It’s available now from 6 am to 9 pm and has wheelchair-accessible vehicles all for $2.50 per ride (seniors and reduced fare riders get a 50% discount). For more on that go to www.ridewithvia.com . I served as a UTA Board person for two years until the legislature ended the Board management system in place. I was the one who believed all transportation options offered by UTA should be free for everyone, all the time. Obviously I didn’t get too far with my personal agenda on that Board, but many agreed with me that this transportation entity must always be moving forward to bring better solutions to public transportation, with more routes, better fares or no fares at all and a great riding experience. Kansas City has a smaller overall system than ours, but maybe Board Chair Carlton Christensen could carve out more free zones to benefit more riders as well as lighten the air we breathe if less cars are on the road.

The Big Apple

City folk bitch and moan about the high price of housing in Zion all the time. Face it, kids, we’ve been discovered by the tech world and supporting industries and people are moving here in droves. When there’s high demand, there’s high prices for both rentals and purchases.  You think YOU have it bad?  I’m a native New Yorker and I pay attention to my birth state, so check out sales there in 2019: The top ten sales in the Big Apple last year were in a new high rise called 220 Central Park South. Hedge fund manager/billionaire Kenneth Griffin bought four floors there for a cool $240 million. That figure is the highest purchase price in the entire country for a condo! The highest sale of a condo reported to an MLS in Utah was for $7,525,000 as listed by Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Utah. That was after they had dropped the price from $8,050,000.  Another fund manager bought one at ‘220’ for almost $93 million and Sting himself picked up one for $65.75 million. Salt Lake City and New York City saw a weird housing market last year. Yes, prices went up, but some went down and many sellers who thought they were going to take advantage of a seller’s market found that they weren’t going to cash out for as much as they had hoped. One condo building in downtown SLC where I sell a lot of units NEVER has anything for sale, and yet at the beginning of December there were six on the market. When my sellers got an offer for slightly less than asking price I asked, ‘Do you want to be one of the six for sale or do you want to be one of the six that SOLD?’.  We’re closing escrow momentarily on that unit.  Homes and condos sat on the market a little longer in both cities. City Creek, across from Temple Square announced in November that they were virtually sold out of all condos and didn’t plan on building any more high end units here. In NYC high end units were having a hard time selling because the construction boom there has been enormous in the past few years and high end inventory abounds. The high end residential tower at 15 Hudson Yards that opened in 2016 has only sold out a little more than half of their inventory and a new building is going in next door with even more luxury condos being offered for future buyers and investors. According to one data mining company (marketproof.com), at least a quarter of New York condos built after 2013 were still unsold in the early fall of last year. In Salt Lake City, only 12 condos built after 2013 were for sale as of last week. What’s the prediction for 2020?  I’ve got no great answers for you, as politics may rule the year. Mortgage rates don’t typically change drastically during these years and well, interest rates are low and should remain under 5% in 2020. Inventory isn’t being built fast enough to meet demand and prices will still go up, while some will go down! www.cityrealty.comwww.marketproof.com