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Sugar House: Sugar Alley Fire Aftermath

Construction was well underway when Sugar Alley caught fire on October 25, 2022 greatly impacting nearby businesses for months afterwards.


When Salt Lake City approved the current zoning ordinance for the Sugar House Business District, it gave property owners the right to construct mixed-use (residential with commercial) structures up to 100′ tall, with specific conditions and restrictions. In a short time, historic buildings such as the iconic Granite Drug Store were demolished, and the 6-story “Vue at Sugar House” rose over the notorious Sugar Hole that was left in the ground. 

All around the Business District, other landowners exercised their right to lease or sell their lots for mixed-use re-development. On the Granite block alone, three more multi-story projects went up: “2100 Sugarhouse” (two stories); the “Sugarmont Apartments and Townhomes” (seven stories); and most recently, the eight story building at 2188 S Highland Drive known as “Sugar Alley.” 

Sugar Alley was designed to meet design guidelines updated in 2021 for the east part of downtown Sugar House. The Sugar House Community Council approved the over-all concept, which included some old ideas in tribute to the history of the site as well as new ones, such as a large glass atrium facing Highland Drive. 

Construction was well underway when Sugar Alley caught fire on October 25, 2022. Fire companies responded quickly. There were no injuries, but the building was destroyed. After lengthy study, the Fire Department’s investigation determined that the cause of the fire was not criminal. There may be ongoing private insurance investigations underway to learn more about the cause of the fire. 

Fire Department personnel ordered some residents of the nearby Sugarmont Apartments to evacuate their homes. Fire Chief Tony Allred credits the staff at Sugarmont and Sugar Vue for their quick and efficient assistance in helping to move the residents to safety, and most residents were able to return to their homes within 48 hours. 

Businesses on the south side of the Vue along the Elm Lane frontage — SLC Med Spa, SportClips,  Mochinut, and Real Advantage — were ordered to remain closed due to glass actively falling onto the sidewalk. A structural engineer for the City required the closure of Buffalo Wild Wings, Cubby’s, and Cold Stone City due to concern that the unstable remains of the burnt structure might collapse.  

Demolition of the ruined building began two weeks after the fire. Business owners were allowed into their spaces at that time, and were able to notify their clients and customers that they were open and how to reach them. Whitney Murdock of SLC Med Spa said that the lack of communication and coordination during the first period was frustrating. Even after the barricades came down on Elm Lane, there was confusion about how to enter the stores and where to park.   

SLC’s Department of Economic Development stepped up to notify businesses of the resources available to them. They tried to amplify the “Open for Business” message on social media, as did the Sugar House Chamber of Commerce.  

Now, the Granite block residents and businesses face several more years of active construction as Sugar Alley rises again. They are anxious to learn what will happen next.

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