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City, Community Combine to Crush Car Wash

Aug 04, 2016 01:30PM ● Published by Travis Barton

After going out of business over two years ago, the Ute Car Wash is being torn down after the city issued a demolition permit citing safety concerns. –Travis Barton

Gallery: City, Community Combine to Crush Car Wash [4 Images] Click any image to expand.

By Travis Barton | travis@mycityjournals.com


Sugar House, Utah - It used to have cars exiting its premises fresh and clean but for two years it’s been a “dilapidated structure.”

The Ute Car Wash on 2100 South and Windsor Street is half demolished with a chain link fence around it warning off trespassers, but not anymore. On July 6, Mayor Jackie Biskupski and City Councilwoman Lisa Adams joined with Sugar House Community Council Chair Amy Barry for the ceremonial demolition of the car wash.

“We’re ready to take this thing down,” Biskupski said

Residents have complained about the “eyesore” for over two years waiting for the rundown structure to be demolished.

“I’ve been trying to push a dialogue with the city for a little over 20 months…I was told repeatedly, ‘there’s nothing we can do about it,’” Barry said.

Demolition on the project started over a year ago when it was discovered a permit hadn’t been issued to raze the property. With the demolition half done, the only requirement is that a fence be put up and the weeds be kept down.

Due to an ordinance created by the city in 2012, buildings cannot be torn down without a redevelopment plan in place. The ordinance was passed to avoid more “sugar holes,” which is what happened at the corner of 2100 South and Highland Drive after the lot sat vacant for years giving rise to the “sugar hole” nickname.

“Sugar House has a very recent history of demolitions that sit for far too long and the ramifications of them so we are a little sensitive to it,” Barry said. “So I really appreciate them listening and looking for a solution, which I’m happy they found.”

Nupetco, the owners of the property, still have no plans for development in place which lead Biskupski and her office to find a way to deal with the structure by using a provision in the city code to form an administrative committee that could issue a demolition permit based on safety concerns.

The committee, consisting of Mike Reberg, Director of Community and Neighborhood Development, along with building, fire and police officials; determined there were health safety issues with the site deciding to forego the typical demolition process.

Reberg said the property owners were willing participants in the process and credited the help of the mayor’s office, city council and the community to get this done.

“Everybody involved was just really supportive,” Reberg said.

Biskupski, a Sugar House resident, said during the news conference that the deteriorating structure was a reminder of “inefficient bureaucracy,” and a “piece of the past that neighbors and owners wanted to put behind them. But now it will be a reminder of something else.

“This space can serve as a reminder of the value of community action and government collaboration…that when there is a will, there is a way,” Biskupski said.

Barry expressed her gratitude to Biskupski for recognizing the impact this was having on the community.

“Sugar House has a very recent history of demolitions that sit for far too long and the ramifications of them so we are a little sensitive to it,” Barry said. “So I really appreciate them listening and looking for a solution, which I’m happy they found.”

“I believe when the community is heard, we as a government are going to be responsive. This is a prime example of that,” Biskupski said.

Adams said she is looking forward to closing the loopholes that allowed this half-demolished lot to take place and potentially affect other parts of the city.

“It’s a philosophical question in terms of what we prefer: scraped, empty ground or falling down buildings,” she said. “After having enough falling down buildings for a few years, we’re starting to decide maybe we’d rather have empty space waiting to have something developed.”

The lot will remain vacant for the immediate future until the property owners decide what to do with it.  

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