Splash Time

If you haven’t been acting like a lizard and hiding in the shade under one rock at time in this unwelcomed heat, just think: summer has only begun!  What’s August going to be like around our state? The Gov has asked us to pray for rain (for reals) and to conserve energy and water. I might ask him to go further and put some rules into place now rather than when we’re down to our last drops, like asking restaurants to not serve water unless asked to do so and requiring all decorative fountains to be shut down if they aren’t constantly recycling the water, making sure each county that has golf courses evaluates their water use and actually enforce watering times for lawns and agricultural crops.

Where are big fountains in Utah? Free fun can be had at Gateway’s ‘Olympic Legacy Plaza Snowflake Fountain’ which shoots water from the ground into the air, as does the Town Square Park fountain in St. George. The Seven Canyons Fountain at Liberty Park is a favorite play area for kids that’s also free as well as the Oquirrh Shadows Park Splash Pad in South Jordan. The Desert Wave public pool in Price has the WIBIT indoor pool obstacle course at 250 E. 500 North as well as large outdoor pools for all ages, and Lagoon in Farmington has plenty of swim and water play options. The Bellagio-like musical fountain at Station Park in Farmington is not a place to swim but certainly gives you a cool feeling to watch when you’re hot.

One of the more popular parks in Utah is Cowabunga Bay in Draper, which reminds me of a ginormous ‘Mouse Trap’ game only with water rushing up and down it’s raceways. They have beaches, pools, splashes and rivers and cabana’s you can rent for more of a VIP experience around a private pool. Driving by on I-15 you can see the huge yellow water bucket dump 1200 gallons of water onto patrons standing below it. The oldest operating water park is Cherry Hill in Kaysville which is so popular this year that they have sold out Season Passes for 2021. This resort is unique in that it has a campground and mini golf, pools, a lazy river, and water slides. Seven Peaks waterpark in Provo is now Splash Summit Waterpark and offers 15 different attractions for swimmers and kids. It is Utah’s largest water park and they have just spent a ton of money on what is called the Rainforest River. “Guests will float around this new masterpiece enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of the rainforest,” said Spencer Shumway, owner. Also in Utah County is the smaller Spanish Fork Water Park at 199 N. 300 West.

Also, there’s a splash zone at Hogle Zoo, which helps when you’re roaming around the grounds in triple digit heat wishing you had some way to cool off. It’s got a cute shipwreck/pirate them and an added tide pool full of starfish and other creatures.

House Porn

I didn’t have television for years. Then my clients started talking about this ‘HGTV’ and all these programs about flipping houses and million dollar listings. So, I signed up for cable and of course like many of you, my brain has turned to mush. I have NOT however gotten addicted to house porn, watching all the home shows, and cruising various websites to view dream homes I could never buy in Manhattan, Hawaii, Mexico, etc. Why? Because I live and breath ‘looking at homes’ seven days a week! I do have agent friends all over the country and I love talking to them about their markets and sales prices and the crazy stories that often go with multi-million dollar properties.

NYC is all abuzz this past month after the biggest transaction so far this year closed at 220 Central Park South. The buyer purchased two floors in the building for a mere $157.5 million. It is right in the center of what is known there as ‘Billionaires Row’, where insanely high glass residential towers have been erected on and around Central Park. On the West Coast where my granddaughter is now apprenticing at a real estate firm in Los Angeles, there have been some multi-million dollar mansions trade hands. Barron Hilton’s (as in hotels, and now deceased) Bel-Air estate closed escrow for $61.5 million. It was designed by an architect who worked for Fran Sinatra and Lucille Ball, and had 13,000 sq. ft, 13 bedrooms and 17 bathrooms and was known for it’s famous Moderne-inspired swimming pool with a blue, gold and yellow tiled pool depicting the 12 signs of the Zodiac.

The highest sale reported so far this year by the Wasatch Front Regional MLS is in Park City in the Colony Project at White Pine. This subdivision is the most expensive place to live in Utah. The buyer paid $14.1 million for a three level (9282 Sq. Ft. per floor) 14 bedroom, 21 bath home with an 18 car garage on just over five acres. And of course, the luxury home has all the bells and whistles you’d expect in a millionaire’s home:  multiple bars, a movie theater, sauna, spa, gym and a 3,000 bottle wine cellar. The highest listed home on our MLS is the $69.2 million Deer Hollow Ranch in New Harmony, Utah. The mansion sits on 800 acres and touts a dozen reservoirs of water and plenty of water rights. The Tudor style home was built in 1985 with 11 bedrooms and 13 bathrooms.

Now that you’ve picked your jaw off your chest, the flip side of this is my poor buyer who wants to purchase their first home and doesn’t bring home a lot of money each month. Right now, the WFRMLS reports only TWO homes listed under $250,000 in the entire Salt Lake County area, eight homes listed between $251,000 to $300,000. Given that home prices have gone up a minimum of 20% over the last year I’m afraid if we don’t fine something soon he will be priced out of the market…forever!

Market Time!

Despite human pandemics, riots, housing shortages and traffic jams, the world turns-literally. The summer solstice has just occurred, wherein the earth’s axis is now pointed directly at the sun. For us it means it’s the growing season as evident by the farmer’s markets popping up all over the state.

Our first farmers markets were held in the capitol city in what we call ‘The Marmalade’ neighborhood. Above the Marmalade City Library on the western slope of Capitol Hill, east of 300 West and north of 300 North, are streets named ‘Apricot, Quince and Almond’. These names are indicative of the long ago orchards of trees planted in the early 20th century by Utah settlers. I’ve heard historic tales of pioneers bringing seeds with them on the long trek to Utah and later shipping young saplings by wagon and later train to plant in small orchards on this hill. The women would turn the ripe fruit into jams and marmalades and on Saturdays would gather at the bottom of the hill to sell or swap goods with neighbors. The tradition continues as markets are in full operation around the state.

The mother of all public markets is the Downtown Farmers Market at Pioneer Park which runs from June until September. The Salt Lake Downtown Alliance has been running this wonderful weekly event for thirty years. In addition to locally raised meats, locally grown fruits, vegetables, and nuts there is a local craft market and food trucks galore inside the park boundaries. The market accepts Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) payments using a wooden token program. Go to slcfarmermarket.org to find out about SNAP and other programs.

The organizers of the Salt Lake market say that “Many of our farmers have had their highest sales at our markets in 2020 because now more than ever families are sourcing nutrient rich, locally grown products.” Others markets around the state include St. George, Saturdays 9-12 at Ancestor Square; Park City, Wednesdays 11 am to 5 pm at the Park City Mountain Resort AND Park Silly on Sundays from 10 am to 5 pm on Main Street; Heber City, Thursdays from 5 until 9 pm at Main Street’s Park; Provo, Saturdays 9 am to 2 pm at Pioneer Park; Logan, Saturdays 9 am to 1 pm at the Cashe County Courthouse; Murray, Sundays 9 am to 1 pm at Wheeler Historic Farm; Sandy, third Saturday of the month 11 am to 5 pm at the Shops at South Town; Bountiful, Thursdays from 3 pm until dark at the Town Square;  Ogden, Saturdays, 8 am to 1 pm on 25th Street; and even in Helper City on Thursdays from 5 until 9 pm at the Main Street Park.

My favorite Chinese restaurant, the Hong Kong Tea House on 200 South has a farm and is the only Asian restaurant I know of in Utah that serves ‘farm to table’ from their own farm. They have a booth each week at the Downtown Farmers Market.

What’s Our Future?

In a time when homes in Utah and around many, many, parts of the country are selling for unheard of prices it’s interesting to go back in time when Salt Lake City was so much smaller and when a home might cost $100 or a trade of a few good horses.  Utah was organized as a territory in 1850 and admitted as a state in 1986. According to the 1900 Census (only the 12th Census ever done) the population of the state was 276,749. This was an increase of 33.1% over the Census done ten years earlier, and comments in the report stated: “A small portion of this increase is due to the fact that there were 2,848 Indians and 26 other persons, or a total of 2,874 persons, on Indian reservations in Utah.”

Indigenous peoples have lived in the area known as the state of Utah for thousands of years and felt that no one could own land, that everyone owned the land.  The first peoples were Anasazi who melded into the tribes of Utes, Goshutes, Paiutes, Shoshone, and Navajo. Each occupied a different region within the state, many of which regions extend across borders into other states. In the 2010 census, there were a total of 32,927 American Indian and Alaska Natives living within Utah’s boundaries, which totaled to 1.19% of the total population of our state. There are 326 Indian reservations in the United States and eight in Utah which include: Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation, Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation, Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, Skull Valley Indian Reservation, Timpanog Tribe, Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation, Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation and Ute Mountain Ute Tribe. Census data show that the largest tribal communities indigenous to Utah are the Navajo Nation, Ute Indian Tribe, and Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah.

The Blackfeet tribe were common in and around Idaho, and Crowfoot, their chief in 1885 said: “Our land is more valuable than your money.  It will last forever.  It will not even perish by the flames of fire.  As the sun shines and the waters flow, this land will be here to give life to men and animals.  We cannot sell the lives of men and animals; therefore, we cannot sell this land.  It was put here for us by the Great Spirit, and we cannot sell it because it does not belong to us.  You can count your money and burn it within the nod of a buffalo’s head, but only the great Spirit can count the grains of sand and the blades of grass of these plains.  As a present to you, we will give you anything we have that you can take with you, but the land, never.”

I heard of a man buying his Avenues home in the 1800’s for the price of his only suit of clothes. Now I work with people willing to give up everything just to own a home, a roof over their head. What’s our future, Utah?