In one week basketball (NBA) fans will be tuning into the All Star game here on Sunday the 19th as the smallest arena in the country squeezes in as many fans, players, coaches, support staff, owners and VIPS to the Vivant Arena. Every year I like to bring my fav brother out to see a Jazz game, so I was curious to see what ticket prices were for this event. LOL!  When I checked a few months ago the seats in the sky were going for $3000-5000 and those down on the floor a mere $45,000!  Not kidding!  If you wanted to impress someone and take them to the game to sit behind Team LeBron or Team Giannis you’d be out just under $100 grand!

Salt Lake City is going to make sure we put on a good show apart from the game itself. There’s a free snowboarding competition outside at the Gateway Mall Feb. 17 and 18 called ‘Gril Rail Jam’, free concerts and art shows on top of shipping containers at Gallivan Plaza Feb. 17-19th 1 pm-10 pm each day (open to all ages) and a free hoops contest ongoing Fridays-Sundays at Trolley Square similar to ‘Pop-a Shot’. There are other events under $50-just Google the NBA All-Star weekend events for more info.

What visitors might not see are lines of tents on North Temple and around Gateway of the homeless. Although Mayor Mendenhall has said publicly on many occasions that she wasn’t going to destroy campsites, she actively had SLPD and the health department sweep 500 West two weeks ago when the temps were in single digits at night. I watched them load new tents and sleeping bags that had been donated by different charities scraped into backhoes and thrown into dumpsters. One woman, sleeping in her tent, was picked up in her tent and thrown into one of the dumpsters (luckily lived to tell the tale). Methinks the Mayor will be having massive police and UTA police presence around TRAX stations and the arena and will most likely be very aggressive in hiding our homeless from the TV cameras and visitors during ALL-Star weekend.

On the flip side, visitors will see how vibrant our economy is and all the cranes in the air. The tallest building (Astra, 200 So. State) is 15 stories up, with 24 more to go. It will be the tallest building so far in downtown. Next is the site of the old Tavernacle on 300 So. and 400 East-31 story building that’s about 15% up in the air so far. Previous visitors will be impressed with the new Hyatt Regency attached to the Salt Palace that opened recently with terrific bars and restaurants. City Creek Mall tenants are drooling at the potential for increased sales but probably sad they can’t be open on Sundays…and this particular Sunday…to do shopping before the game.

Those fans flying in will gasp at how small the Great Salt Lake has become, how much snow we have and hopefully we won’t be sporting an inversion that week!

The Moon Tree

Did you know Utah has a Nasa Moon Tree?  Pardon me, as a tree hugger by nature I’m surprised I had never heard of this beauty in our state. “This tree has boldly gone where no trees-and few humans-have gone before”, chimed KSL a few years back. And yes, sci-fi fans love the thought of humans growing plants in space so this is a great little piece of local trivia that will help you win any local pub’s trivia night!

First, the tree is located in an exterior corner of the State Forestry Department’s Lone Peak Office at 271 Bitterbrush Lane in Draper.   Second, it’s a 52 year old sycamore tree that was planted here in 1976. Third, it’s a plant with a lot of history and fourth, it may be dead or almost dead.

In 1971 Apollo 14 blasted off from it’s launch pad and inside the cockpit one astronaut (Stuart Roosa) had a stash of tree seeds on him. Each flyer gets to carry a small personal amount of goods with them and this former Forest Service smokejumper was the perfect guy to give the seeds a ride. In his cannister there were @500 seeds-not just sycamore seeds, but hundreds of redwood, pine, fir and sweet gum seeds.  His job was to bring them home safely to earth as the Command Module Pilot after orbiting the moon (and ultimately landing on it). The great news was that most of the seeds sprouted and NASA then divvied them out to various forestry departments around the country to see what would grow and if anti-gravity would effect what they grew into. Would there be freak trees?  There aren’t any reports of odd growth that I could find.

Utah reportedly got two starts of sycamores and two of Douglas fir were planted in Utah. Utah state capitol building grounds and a local nursery. Folks around the country nicknamed them ‘moon trees’ and local interest was fairly high as to the future of these special plants. The nursery gave out cuttings and clones to its customers. Sadly, the tree at the capitol was destroyed by a freak tornado when it was split in half by the wind in August of 1999 and the other is somewhere by the old prison site in Draper by the State Forestry office out there. I wasn’t able to find out where the other two seedlings disappeared to in Utah as even the State doesn’t know where they are now and if they survived.

This past November NASA launched the Artemis rocket as part of a plan to get us back to land on and explore the moon. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has decided to reactivate the moon seed program for the future. What’s a bummer is that NASA forgot about the program for many years and lost where the trees had been planted around the country. A NASA employee was contacted by a teacher who found a plaque near a moon tree who had asked where others were planted. He had not heard of the program but ended up posting on social media asking for the public’s help finding the trees and hopefully plaques around the country. The current Moon Tree Foundation is now run by Roosa’s daughter who sees to plant moon trees around the world.

Winter Staging

I don’t know if it’s an abundance of snow or the dread prediction that the Great Salt Lake will be dead within five years and the subsequent dust will kill us all, but I’ve had numerous clients contact me already this new year wanting to relocate OUT of Utah. The good news is that I have a huge network of real estate agents around the country whom I’ve met, worked with over the years who I can hook you up with or find to help you transition to a new locale. It’s pretty scary to just ‘pick up and go’ in general if you don’t have a network of friends and family in your planned destination, so having a REALTOR be your first friend can take some of the fear away. A seasoned broker will be able to, in advance, counsel you on types of housing found in that destination, pricing of said housing and really simple things like good links to school data if you have or plan to have kids, utility companies and recycling options, mortgage brokers, great restaurants, transportation options, local festivals and farmers markets.

Some folk will have to sell their home to relocate, others might opt to rent out the property in case they don’t like where they moved to and can return in a year or two and move back into their home or condo. I know a great property manager who will help you find great tenants by checking their credit and criminal history and make agreements with you as to what you’d authorize them to repair if something went wrong and set a limit where you don’t want to be disturbed if say a repair costs under $500. They will take out their monthly management fee (say, 10%, and it’s negotiable) and deposit the rental income into your bank account each month. The MOST important thing if you wish to rent is to talk to a CPA. If you turn personal residence into a rental there’s a certain time allowed regarding capitol gains on any profits of a sale, so check first what you should plan for in the future as far as taxes are concerned. And, talk to an attorney to decide if you want to put the property into an LLC and/or your living trust.

You have to stage a home to sell it these days-it’s just standard practice now. In winter you must make sure you keep snow removed from walkways, clean windows to let in as much light as possible, deep clean appliances and the home itself and declutter.  Don’t overwhelm potential buyers with massive smells, like too many burning candles. If you’ve got one, light the gas fireplace for showings. Keep the temp @70°, put on mellow music and create a vibe that the home is warm and inviting. Throw a soft lap blanket on the sofa with an open book to give the impression of comfort. With the market adjusting downward you have to step up your game to sell these days!