Sugar House construction moratorium denied by Council Members
updated September 6th, 2007
Soren Simonson's proposed halt to Sugar House developer Craig Mecham's Granite block demolition plans-- denied by colleges in Salt Lake City Council
Emotions ran high in the City Council meeting as business owners showed their vehement opposition to a proposed motion to stop demolition on the Granite Block. Russell Callister representing Mecham investments, said that his development recognizes the master plan. Callister also said that they have worked with the city and the community to retain the ambiance of Sugar House and to stop progress now would put not only cost them thousands of dollars in delays and also undermine efforts by all business property owners in Sugar House who wishes to beautify and develop their properties around the block.
The moratorium was initiated by Sugarhouse District 4 Representative Soren Simonsen, who believes the decision to rezone the block and allow for upscale condominiums and likely national chain-store retail was a mistake. (watch interview with Simonsen) The moratorium would have halted all construction pending further review including a "historical study". However, Simonson 's motion never received a second and never came to a vote. Each council member explained why they didn't believe this was the proper thing to do.
Council Member Jill Remington Love said, "I can appreciate this as a symbolic gesture, but there is no question that these buildings need to come down ...these buildings are unsafe and they could easily collapse." Simonsen made a motion to speak explaining his position. He said that it was imperative to save our history not in only large buildings like the [City County Building] but also in smaller places throughout the valley. Simonsen pointed out how that both the Redman movies building and the Guthrie bicycle buildings in Sugar House were recently lost to development, and "its buildings like these these that offer our sense of place in a community."
Opponents shared the belief that Sugar House is nothing like what it was 50 years ago and is constantly evolving. Everything has changed and his efforts to preserve the area are without merit because there is nothing significant to preserve in the dilapidated buildings that Mecham is proposing to tare down. This sentiment was shared by area merchants.
After the meeting Barbara Green, Sugar House Merchant's Association Chairperson as well as Andrew Scrivmer, Owner of Salt Lake Pizza and Pasta and Fiddler's elbow, both agreed that Simonson 's efforts were uncalled for and that he isn't respecting the rights of property owners in the area. However, they both conceded that Simonson does have a strong following in his efforts. There are still many who fear that Sugar House will lose its ambiance and charm as a result of this reconstruction. On September 5th Craig Mecham plans to unveil renderings of his development that according to spokesperson Russell Callister, should demonstrate that this project will "preserve the integrity of the area." Project renderings and photos are in our next story.