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Mecham unveils plans for Sugar House Granite Block redevelopment

posted September 5th, 2007

Utah Stories provides the first look of the controversial plans for the Sugar House redevelopment of the Granite Block

The Sugar House Merchants Association gave the floor to Craig Mecham to offer the first look into what the controversial Granite Block Redevelopment will look like. "This [condos], is what pays for this [street retail]." Mecham's plans are indeed not another Gateway. From the way it currently looks, the building will be made of expensive materials: brick, glass; no stucco facades and no skybridges. Mecham said he and his architects have worked very hard to preserve the historic character of the area. Mecham said he began the design process by presenting his architect with a historic photograph from 1917, before the updates of the tin sides and roof were added to the buildings on the block.

The result is that instead of a seven story structure directly over pedestrians, the retail area will be one story tall and the seven story high-rise condos will be recessed 30 feet back from the retail area. Mecham, in a calm demeanor, presented his plans repeatedly pointing out the the walkable atmosphere, and the many green open areas. "Far more green areas then what is currently there." Mecham added.

sugarhouse granite block artist renderings

view from current Barnes and Noble looking West down 2100 South

Mecham then opened up to questions from the audience. Most audience concerns were over how the building would preserve or retain the ambiance it currently has. Mecham pointed out that he expects a large street cafe to take the place of where Sugar House Coffee is (pictured below).

Another nice aspect to the project Barbara Green, Sugar House Merchants Association Chairwoman, pointed out is how the tall retail windows facing highland and 2100 South will be retained, whereby window shopping will be preserved. The biggest and most obvious changes come in how tall the structure is and how it will require additional accommodation of 70 condo units as well as 40,000 square feet of retail space. The traffic congestion was "a major issue," Mecham pointed out. "We worked with traffic engineers and I think we have found a great solution. City Engineers, have reviewed the plans and they agree, it will work well." Mecham said.

sugarhouse redevelopment
parking and traffic plans for the Sugar House Granite Block

The solution (above) is direct a much greater flow of traffic along Wilmington Avenue to the underground parking rather than further congest 2100 South. After phase one of the project, there will be temporary access to parking from a street that will divide the block across the street from the Sprague Library. This street will accommodate traffic to the parking garage. After phase two is completed this street will then be closed to vehicular traffic and will be for pedestrians only. Green added that residents who purchase condos on this block will not be, "your typical two car family..[Residents] will instead either have one car or no car at all, once Trax is in place, they can ride that where they need to go.

Mecham would not offer a ball-park estimate for how much the condos will sell for. "They will be "very high-end, as for nickels and dimes I don't want to say until we are further in the process. " When Mecham was asked about maintaining the local feel, he said that he would offer previous local merchants who have vacated the block a "small discount on rent, to move back." Mecham also noted that national chain stores have already contacted him about occupying the space but he refused to say who. "Until we have timelines and real dates, I don't want to comment on too many details," Mecham said. (September 5th) Mecham will present the plans to the Sugar House Community Council at the Sprague Library at 7:00 p.m.



View looking South on Hyland Drive (Sprague library pictured on the left)


view from across the street from Barnes and Noble. Interesting how the bookstore acquires a street cafe.

The redeveloped corner where Sugar House Coffee and Blue Boutique are currently located. Very tame compared to what is currently there. Absent are the smoking, coffee drinking kids and D cup maniquins. Hopfully some of that will somehow remain.

reader comments send via on myspace

sent from krys:

ugh. are people actually buying into this?? seven story high-end condos, and he's claiming to keep the old-fashioned feel of sugarhouse? a 'small discount' for the old stores to move back? if i were one of those store owners, my only response to that offer would be an obscene gesture in his direction. and everyone who buys one of those condos will be branded a sellout or an imposter.

the whole thing is a shame. our home is being torn out from under us, and he's trying to make it sound like he's doing the town a service. -k