Mormonism and church finances/City Creek Center

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PERSPECTIVES MEDIA QUESTIONS RESOURCES 2014 CONFERENCE

    Financing of City Creek Center

Questions


  • Some have claimed that the Church-funded redevelopment project in downtown Salt Lake City known as City Creek Center is funded using tithing.
  • It is claimed that the City Creek project cost $5 Billion.

Answer


These claims are incorrect.

The motivation for the Church's involvement in a project of this scope is described in an extensive interview with Presiding Bishop H. David Burton: "Mormon leaders and Salt Lake City work together to transform land," Deseret News (7 March 2010).

City Creek Center has been achieving its desired objective. According to the New York Times:

Now, though, a nascent renaissance has taken hold in downtown Salt Lake City, making a stop appealing even outside ski season.

Roughly 125 businesses of all kinds have opened or moved there since 2009, or are about to open — not counting 100 in the newest shopping center — according to the Downtown Alliance, which promotes the area. About 5,000 people now live there, too, a 35 percent jump since 2010, said Jason Mathis, the group’s executive director. No one will mistake it for the East Village, but downtown is starting to become a place people actually seek out to eat and play. One fact captured the change as well as any, apparent on a recent visit: Four craft breweries now operate within 10 blocks of Temple Square, the historic center of both downtown and of the teetotaling Mormon world.

“Salt Lake is really ascending, and all the stars seem to be aligned” for the future, Mr. Mathis said. “There’s good stuff going on.”

(Christopher Solomon, Action Off the Mountains in Salt Lake City, New York Times, July 25, 2013)

The 5 billion dollar figure refers to the cost of the entire Salt Lake City downtown redevelopment project, referred to as "Downtown Rising." The City Creek Center cost $1.5 Billion. Other projects include the following:

  • Utah Performing Arts Center
  • Frank E. Moss Federal Courthouse
  • Six Gateway
  • Questar Corporate Headquarters
  • Jessie Eccles Quinney Center For Dance and Capitol Theatre Renovation
  • Public Safety Building
  • Public Market
  • Convention Center Hotel
  • Utah Theater
  • City Creek
  • Gallivan Plaza
  • Harmons City Creek
  • The Leonardo
  • 222 South Main
  • O.C. Tanner

Details about these projects may be viewed at Downtown Rising

The Church has repeatedly stated that no tithing money is being used for construction of City Creek Center, including in the official Church magazine, the Ensign:

The Church first announced three years ago it was planning to redevelop the downtown area to energize the economy of the city that houses its headquarters and to bolster the area near Temple Square. No tithing funds will be used in the redevelopment.
"Church Releases Plans for Downtown Salt Lake", Ensign, Dec. 2006, 76–80.

The entire project is being financed through the church's commercial real estate arm, Property Reserve, Inc. These funds come through for-profit, tax-paying businesses owned by the Church.

This Deseret News article has more information on the construction and financing:

Money for the project is not coming from LDS Church members' tithing donations. City Creek Center is being developed by Property Reserve Inc., the church's real-estate development arm, and its money comes from other real-estate ventures.
- Doug Smeath, "Downtown renovation project", Deseret News March 27, 2007.


Criticism of Church integrity

Ex-Mormon claims regarding the financing of City Creek often include complaints that tithing money that they paid while believing members were used for this project, or that the tithing money of their ancestors was used to ultimately purchase the Church's "for-profit" companies. Some even claim that this is the reason that they left the Church. Perhaps the issue underlying this complaint is a lack of trust in the leaders who run the Church. When the Presiding Bishop gives assurances that tithing monies were not used to finance the Property Reserve's business ventures, such assurances are satisfactory to believing members who aren't worried about the truthfulness of Church leaders' reports.

For a detailed response, see: Mormonism and church integrity/City Creek Center Mall in Salt Lake City

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