Utah Stories

Sugar House Scene: New Kid on the Granite Block

As new businesses move in to Sugar House, will the old businesses be forced out?


The Bar in Sugar House – Photo by Mark Salgado

There’s a new kid on the Sugar House Granite Block, and he’s pushing out the old timers. The University of Utah is rumored to be building a large medical facility in the heart of Sugar House, and developer Craig Mecham has been reportedly ending leases and buying up property to begin facility construction.

But not all businesses are willing to move out.

The Bar, at 2168 Highland Dr. in Sugar House, was originally the doctor’s office of owner Spencer Ahrend’s grandfather. Ahrend and his wife, Lisa, purchased the small property from his grandfather’s estate when he passed away.

Sugar House has long been known for its eclectic mix of independent shops, galleries, restaurants and coffee shops. In 2008, however, the landscape changed. Mecham began demolishing independent businesses to redevelop the northeast corner of 1100 East and 2100 South. Mecham lost funding, however, when the Great Recession hit, and the land lay undeveloped. Locals dubbed it “Sugar Hole.”

When the economy picked up, chain businesses were erected. Meanwhile, the little Bar in Sugar House survived.

Not every business is so reluctant to move, however.

One month away from their 30-year anniversary, Sugar House Furniture  moved from the Granite Block. “The entire building got a notice that we would need to move out by January,” Sugar House Furniture owner Jill Haskell said. Haskell opted to move her furniture store early.

Sugar House Furniture is seven blocks south of the high-traffic congested area. “It’s not just good traffic,” she said. “It’s congested traffic, and we’ve heard from customers that the construction was one thing but now the congestion is so much more. So it was absolutely time to go. It was just too much,” Haskell said.

The move was a positive one, she reports. The store is now located at 2892 S Highland Drive, the space three times the original, and they have 24 private parking spaces.

Haskell holds no animosity for the move. “The old location treated us very well for 29 years, but it’s just too much development, too much construction constantly, so it left no place for us inside that area to go,” she said.

The medical center is rumored for groundbreaking in November. Mecham did not return calls for comment. We invite Mr. Mecham to show his plans and tell about the next phase of the Sugar House Granite Block in our next issue.


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