Utah Stories

Is South Salt Lake the Next Sugar House?

The Salt Lake City RDA sees South Salt Lake as the “next Sugar House,” but this concept doesn’t bode well for the area entrepreneurs.


Pats BBQ-5
Pat’s BBQ in South Salt Lake

Major redevelopment is set to hit South Salt Lake in the very near future, but some worry the City’s 20-25 year vision Master Plan is short-sided, toeing the line of Urban Gentrification.

SSLC’s unique industrial identity and growing small-town charm has largely been formed by a myriad of long time businesses. Places like Pat’s BBQ, Vertical Diner and Salt Lake City Bicycle Collective have enjoyed an affordability and community-feel singular to the valley for years; and now, with Dented Brick Distillery, Utah’s first destination distillery, and Shades of Pale Brewery – which moved to SSLC from Park City a year ago because of the cheap rent as well as the seeming local-business renaissance the area is undergoing – there is a real chance for the city to break the cookie-cutter mold that is so ubiquitous throughout Utah.

But will the redevelopment’s plan to become more of a mixed-use residential push established businesses out of the area, and sour the South Salt Lake lore for budding entrepreneurs?

Trent Fargher, owner of Shades of Pale, thinks so.

Shades of pale group
Shades of Pale Photo by Mike Jones

“They want to turn South Salt Lake into more of a mixed-use area; a mix of commercial and residential, but it won’t be more commercial-manufacturing,” he said, believing that this type of redevelopment will cause property rates to skyrocket, and create just a clone of what Sugar House has become.

Mike Florence, SSLC’s Community Development Director who is spearheading the long-term project, doesn’t believe the city wants another Sugar House. “The city wants its own identifiable area. But we do want to be a mixed-use neighborhood … the small town feel is important to the city, but the city understands that there is pressure to develop,” he said.

Flargher knows that a change is needed, he just wants it done right.

“It’s like a manufacturing collective here, and as near as I can tell, what South Salt Lake is trying to do is to move those people out of this area and into somewhere else. And they want to replace that with something that looks like Sugar House,” he said. “Change is going to happen, but don’t throw the small business people under the bus to make that change. We don’t need another Sugar House.”

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