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The Expecting Granite Block Changes

Mar 10, 2016 10:29AM ● Published by Bryan Scott

By Natalie Mollinet | natalie@mycityjournals.com

Sugar House  - The sign for Boulder Ventures apartments near the old Granite Furniture Warehouse building is evidence of one of the few changes coming around that area. The new look will include residential buildings, as well as new business buildings. 

There are two businesses, Boulder Ventures and Craig Meacham, who own the buildings in what many consider the “Sugar Hole,” which is the area around the old Granite Furniture building and Hyland Plaza. Meacham owns Hyland Plaza, the Leisure Living building and the Dixon building along Highland Drive. These buildings have already been knocked down to make way for a new business building. 

Bill Knowles, who is the Sugar House Ombudson, said he has seen the new building plans and that the building will fit into the Sugar House look.

“It has interesting angles to it and will be a tall building. There will be some landscaping and public space in the back with park benches and nice landscaping,” Knowles said. 

A new street will be added, connecting Wilmington and Elm Street, and there will be not only more parking but also more room for people to walk. 

One of the major plans that will need to be completed is renovating the canal that runs below all those buildings. The water from the canal is used for farming farther west, and as per a contract between the farmers and the city, that canal needs to be turned on by March 15. The city is more than happy to let Meacham and Boulder Ventures build there, because they have agreed to renovate the canal under the buildings, which is a job that has been sorely needed for years. The builders will be renovating about 560 feet of the canal, which will be beneficial for the farmers down the canal. 

Many of the residents in Sugar House feel that the new buildings will take away from the charm that Sugar House has to offer, such as a lot of small businesses. Some people believe the small businesses are being pushed out due to higher competitors being brought in. 

“I think the area is too crowded as it is. I don’t like driving down 2100 South anymore. We don’t need more people crossing the streets ... and getting hit by cars. I say keep the charm,” Kristen Valdez, a frequent visitor to Sugar House, said. 

Kirk Hauffaker, who is a member of the Utah Heritage Foundation, had his take on the changes in Sugar House and if they’re affecting the history. 

“In only the last 10 years, more than 50 years of historic architecture in Sugar House has being erased. Quickly, Sugar House is losing the character of place that multiple generations of people have strong emotional connection to,” he said.

Other residents in Sugar House believe that the changes were coming and are needed to the changing community. 

“Frankly, none of the buildings in question are really iconic or historic in any significant way. What gives Sugar House its charm is that it is a trendy suburb. Replacing worn- down, barely used buildings in the interest of paving the way for new businesses and residences is good for everyone,” a new resident in Sugar House said.

The next phase after the demolition of the Dixon building is to knock down the buildings north of it. The buildings that will be demolished are the buildings where The Bar in Sugar House resides as well as Fats Grill. These buildings are owned by Craig Meacham and were actually constructed by his grandfather in 1956, on the site for the Hyland Lumber and Hardware Co. 

“Although the Sugar House master plan lists historic preservation as one of its goals, nothing in the zoning ordinance provided incentives for historic preservation or for protecting small, local businesses, should the property owners decide to redevelop the block. As a result, the new development came at a higher rate per square foot for tenants, and effectively barred some small local businesses from remaining in the historic Sugar House business district,” Lynne Olson, a member of the Sugar House community council, said.

Businesses around the area knew that they were in trouble when the new buildings were being built around them in 2006. Some of the businesses stayed in Sugar House, including Sugar House Furniture, Standard Optical and the Square Nest, which have moved to Meacham’s new building at the Vue.  

The new building replacing Dixon already has businesses planning to move in once it is finished.  As for the old Granite Furniture building, Boulder Ventures doesn’t have permission to demolish the building yet.

According to Lindsey Ferrari, who works for Boulder Ventures, a lot of input was put into what would be built where the Granite Furniture Warehouse building was located.

“The warehouse building project has been in the works for around eight years, waiting to see how the development around it would look, as well as getting feedback from retailers around the area,” Ferrari said. 

Some businesses around the area said that they weren’t for more retail, but rather a place where people can live so they can get more customers coming into their businesses. Boulder Ventures talked with Westminster College along with Fairmont Park and Forest Dale Golf Course, and the new building will have plenty of parking and will actually be constructed as two buildings. 

More is to come in the future with the changes in Sugar House’s development. For more information, residents can attend the Sugar House Community Council meetings held at the Sprague Library.   

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