Skip to main content

The City Journals

Utah Arts Alliance tries to save Granite High from developers

Dec 02, 2016 01:36PM ● By Brian Shaw

PIXAR President Ed Catmull, a Granite High alum, (left) has reportedly stepped forward to aid a local non-profit in saving his alma mater from demolition. (Steve Jurvetson)

By Brian Shaw | [email protected]

The battle rages on between land developers who have the former Granite High School property under contract from the Granite School District and those who are still interested in preserving the old Granite High buildings for public use. 

This latest development comes less than one year after South Salt Lake Mayor Cherie Wood vetoed the first plan approved by the city council in a 4-3 vote to build a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market and 78 single-family homes. 

In this revised plan, the developer—who met with a handful of residents at the Columbus Center on October 13 at a contentious open house—would do a few things that city residents might find as disturbing or more so than the first plan, which the mayor nixed back then because residents told her they didn’t want a Wal-Mart sprouting up in their city. 

Entitled the “Granite Legacy,” the developer will reportedly demolish the backside of Granite High—on which the swimming pool sits—and build 84 single-family homes. A small open space would be created up the middle of the property, while the front side would be rezoned for a big-box retailer. That plan is now in the hands of the city. 

Meanwhile, another group has stepped to the forefront recently with a different plan that it intends to present to Garbett Homes before the developer begins demolition on Granite High’s buildings and rebuilds the area—a six-month time frame starting now. 

In an attempt to combat the developer’s latest plans, the non-profit Utah Arts Alliance has come forth with what it’s terming the “Granite High Encore Project,” which in its own words would “Save the property and heritage of the site for the community.” It’s already raised over $3,000 on an IndieGogo fundraising page. 

On October 26 and for the second time in as many city council meetings for the month, the non-profit even sent a representative to update city council members and city officials on their project. After Derek Dyer walked up to the dais to inform the members and city officials on his organization’s latest information, City Attorney Doug Ahlstrom suggested that the council not “interfere with the contract [with Garbett Homes].” 

“[The council] should just be good listeners and forward on all comments onto the property owners who have the property under contract,” said Ahlstrom.

The six point plan the non-profit has put forth is rather extensive and contradicts what Garbett Homes has outlined it wants to do. 

First, the alliance would “acquire the Granite High property and adjoining buildings from [Granite School District].” Second, it would “maintain [the largest open space in South Salt Lake] for community use.” Both of the Alliance’s initial goals would take a serious hit under Garbett’s current plan. 

In addition, the alliance would refurbish the auditorium and use it for a community arts center and “renovate the Industrial Arts building into a Maker Space,” which is a place  where artists can create. Garbett’s current plan, however, is to demolish all of the buildings on the property. 

The Alliance also has a plan that will excite city residents, but this idea also counters what Garbett intends to do with the property. The non-profit would like to “restore the gymnasiums, workout rooms and pool for community use,” a feature that is sorely missing in the city right now. The alliance added in its public disclosure that it would like to use the other buildings on the former Granite High School site for “community purposes and work spaces.” 

All are counter to what Garbett has in store for the former Granite High property, and Garbett’s proposal for rezoning the property is now in the hands of the city. Interest in the property is heavy, as evidenced by the 1,500 signatures and counting that are currently on a petition which the Granite High Alumni Association created to make Granite High a historical landmark. 

Whether or not Wasatch Properties actually agrees to a meeting with the Utah Arts Alliance is still unclear. Alliance member Derek Dyer reported that the Alliance has “talked to” PIXAR director Ed Catmull, a Granite High alum, and he did appear in a video the Alliance submitted to the city council at the October 26 meeting. 

In the end though, it will all come down to what Garbett Homes wants to do with the property. As the moment draws near for the city to make a decision on the former Granite High grounds, city residents continue to wonder what will come of their beloved high school.