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SALT LAKE CITY (AP/KSL TV) -- The LDS church may have the market cornered on downtown malls.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Wednesday it has purchased the Crossroads Mall, an indoor, multistory complex just across the street from the similar church-owned ZCMI Center.
The purchase extends the church's reach in downtown, but church officials said they had no immediate plans to change the structure and will honor existing shop leases. The mall sits just south of Temple Square and is adjacent to church headquarters.
Bishop H. David Burton refused to divulge the value of the deal, which is not yet final. But "the economic value was such that we felt it would be timely for us to express some interest," he said.
"I would say that in the short term, nothing is going to change there," Burton said.
He says the Church will consider many options in redeveloping the Crossroads and ZCMI Malls, including mixed use or somehow connecting the two.
Phone calls by the Associated Press to current owner Foulger-Pratt, a Maryland-based property management and construction company, were not immediately returned.
The church has no plans to someday make the building an extension of its headquarters, but does want the mall to be "a desirable good neighbor to the headquarters to the church," Burton said. He didn't single out any of the five dozen stores at Crossroads as being undesirable.
Stores inside the mall include Victoria's Secret, Frederick's Of Hollywood, The Disney Store and The Gap.
Downtown redevelopment has long been a hot topic in Salt Lake City, with businesses languishing on the city's Main Street as development shifts west, most noticeably to the Gateway mall a few blocks away from downtown.
Retail giant Nordstrom is Crossroads' anchor tenant, but store officials want to move to Gateway and have ruled out staying at Crossroads after its lease expires in 2005.
The church and Mayor Rocky Anderson -- who has pressured Nordstrom to stay put -- say the store is key to keeping downtown viable.
A Nordstrom spokesman told Eyewitness News the company just signed a letter of intent with the Boyer company to build a store at the Gateway.
"We are the biggest stakeholder in this community -- the biggest single stakeholder in this community -- and we want (downtown) to be a place of beauty, a place compatible with the headquarters of the church in every way," Burton said. "We want a strong downtown.
"One just has to walk down Main Street to understand that in some cases it's a little less than vibrant."
Bob Farrington of the Downtown Alliance says the mall purchase is a positive move in helping to revitalize downtown, and public reaction seemed mostly positive.
It will be a few weeks before the sale is finalized.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)