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Monday, March 10, 2014

246: MORMONOPOLY: BUILDING "ZION" ONE PROPERTY AT A TIME


When I was a little kid, sometimes instead of a lesson for Family Night Evening, we would play board games. One of my favorite games was Monopoly. It is a game where the players move around the gameboard buying properties, developing their properties by building housing and then collecting rent from their opponents.  For the LDS market, I had an idea for a new variation of the game. I would call it Mormonolopy.

 
All of us are very familiar with the non-profit side of the Church with the buildings of Temples, churches, and the missionary program, but most are not familiar with the LDS Church for-profit companies. I thought it might be good to have fun playing a game with some of the properties that the Church owns. These are investment properties and companies that are income-producing assets. One would assume that these properties are helping with the Church's 3 fold mission, (actually I think there are four missions now.) It was announced recently the additional 4th mission: To Care for the Poor and the Needy.


Many might be surprised to know that the LDS church is the largest non-governmental land owner in the US. It is not unusual for the Church to buy land. It normally does so through its primary corporate entity, the Corporation of the Presiding Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  news article
 
In a recent fireside at our stake, a Church employee spoke and shared with us that the Church builds more square footage in United States than Walmart. I don't know what the Church's exact square footage is, but as of January 31, 2014,  Walmart  has built almost 1 billion square feet. ( 723,385,669 square feet to be exact) stats 

Last week,  Suburban Land Reserve (one of the real estate arms of the Church) met with the City Council to propose a preliminary Planned Unit Development (PUD) in Herriman.  The LDS Church owns 300 acres in Herriman approximately at 6801 W 11800 South.  and hopes to get approval to subdivide the land into 2,549 home building lots. (Minutes to the City Council Mtg.)

A few years ago, "The Mormon Church has purchased a major chunk of undeveloped property in overbuilt Maricopa from two major home builders. Property Reserve Inc., a real-estate holding company owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, paid home builders Fulton Homes Corp. and Shea Homes for Active Adults a combined $72 million in October for about 1,900 acres of virgin land in the Pinal County city, 35 miles south of Phoenix." LDS Purchases Maricopa land from builders in Arizona

While a developing land to subdivide into home lots is one thing, when I learned that the Church has land with plans to develop an entire new city, I was really surprised. Here are some specifics of developing the Elberta/Goshen area. For those who are not familiar with this area, this is the land that is being used to film all of the New Testaments Bible videos for the Church.

http://www.utahcounty.gov/Dept/ComDev/Planning/UtahCountyGoshenValleySpecificAreaPlan.pdf

 
 
A few other purchase of the Church within the past 10 years:

International Corporate Park in Orlando bought by LDS Church's Surburban Land Reserve.
http://www.bizjournals.com/orlando/stories/2007/08/27/daily52.html

  • Suburban Land Reserve announced late Friday that it has bought the International Corporate Park in east Orange County for an undisclosed price.  Scott Dean, a vice president with the Utah-based firm, says work with Orange County and the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority will begin immediately to complete the development and construction of the Innovation Way interchange at the 528 Beachline.

LDS church transfers Northwest Quadrant to Kennecott
http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/politics/52567975-90/kennecott-development-church-lake.html.csp

  • Most of the quadrant has been owned by the LDS Church for decades, once serving as a welfare-era farm during the Great Depression. Duke, with the LDS Church's real-estate arm, notes PRI now holds 2,000 acres there, 1,000 of which is the city's former landfill.  Firmage says the LDS Church was "frustrated" by the inability to make a return on its sprawling investment. He says the housing market makes it too risky to develop, so he hopes to see an easement or the like to protect the land as open space." 
For those that are interested, here is a partial list of some of the other LDS for-profit companies and  property holdings.
 
  • Deseret Management Corporation 
  • Property Reserve, Inc.
  • Suburban Land Reserve, Inc
  • City Creek Properties
  • Beneficial Financial Group 
  • Bonneville International 
  • Bonneville Communications 
  • Bonneville Interactive Services
  • Bonneville Satellite 
  • KSL Radio Station as well as other affliates.
  • Television Station (KSL)
  • Deseret Book 
  • LDS Motion Picture Studios
  • Deseret Morning News 
  • Hawaii Reserves 
  • Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) 
  • La'ie Shopping Center
  • La'ie Park
  • La'ie Cemetary
  • Hukilau Beach Park
  • La'ie Water Company
  • La'ie Treatment Works (sewer)
  • Temple Square Hospitality 
  • Joseph Smith Memorial Building 
  • The Inn at Temple Square 
  • Lion House Pantry 
  • The Roof Restaurant 
  • The Garden Restaurant 
  • Passages Restaurant 
  • Zions Securities Corporation 
  • Farm Management Corporation 
  • Deseret Land and Livestock
  • Sun Ranch (Martin's Cove)
  • Deseret Ranches of Florida (Orlando)
  • Deseret Farms of California
  • Rolling Hills (Idaho)
  • West Hills Orchards (Elberta, Utah)
  • Cactus Lane Ranch (Arizona)
  • Deseret Trust Company
  • LDS Family Services
  • Property Reserves Inc. (PRI)
  • Ensign Peak Advisors - 
  • Deseret Mutual Benefit Administrators 
  • Brigham Young University (BYU) 
  • BYU - Idaho 
  • BYU - Hawaii
  • LDS Business College
  • Agreserves Australia 
  • Deseret Ranches of Alberta, Canada
  • Agreserves LTD Cambridge,England
  • AgroReservas, S.C. Los Mochis, Mexico
  • Deseret Farms of CA Woodland, CA
  • Deseret Farms of CA Modesto,CA
  • Deseret Farms of CA Chico,CA
  • South valley Farms Bakersfield, CA
  • Deseret Security Farms Blythe, CA
  • Naples Farms Naples,FL
  • Deseret Cattle & Citrus ST. Cloud, FL
  • Deseret Farms of Ruskin Ruskin, FL
  • Kewela Plantation O'ahu,HI
  • Rex Ranch Ashby, NE
  • Riverbend Farms ST.Paul, OR
  • Deseret Land & Livestock Woodruff, UT
  • Wasatch-Dixie Farms Elberta, UT
  • Agreserves Cottle CO.,TX
  • Agrinorthwest Kennewick, WA
 
  
I would be interested in know how these companies and properties fulfill the missions of the Church, and with "hastening the work". It might be my lack of understanding but, it seems to be a lot of business as usual.  Large land parcels of several thousand acres for agriculture seems like a good thing.. but long-term development, mixed use projects, office, industrial, high rise condos seems more like Monopoly.

Sidenote:

Genesis 11:4–6
"And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and they said, "Come, let us build us a city, and a tower, with its top in heaven, and let us make us a name". And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one. . . Let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand . . . and the Lord scattered them."

 The Gospel of Thomas, 64:1–12
 "Buyers and merchants will not enter the places of my father."