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Developer agrees to fill in Sugar House crater

Published: Friday, Jan. 16 2009 12:00 a.m. MST

The saga of the Sugar House crater continues.

Salt Lake City planning officials say developer Craig Mecham has agreed to fill in the hole on the corner of 2100 South and Highland Drive over the next 45 days, complying with terms of the latest city-granted deadline extension.

Financing for the 4 1/2-acre residential, retail and office development has been secured, but construction isn't expected to begin for another six months to a year, said Frank Gray, the city's director of community and economic development.

That means the crater left from demolition work that began a year ago must be filled.

"We've arranged to have (Mecham) fill the hole in a reasonable period of time," Gray said, "and he's doing that."

The developer is revising plans for the project in order to address lenders' concerns, Gray said. Those changes will require the development to go back to the Salt Lake City Planning Commission for approval, he said.

Construction delays have plagued the project since crews began demolishing buildings on the former Granite Furniture block last January.

The demolition work, which had been expected to take about a month to complete, stalled when it was discovered that the then-partially demolished Blue Boutique building shared a wall with its neighbor to the west, a building owned by Rockwood Investment Associates.

It took more than two months for the property owners to work out an agreement that allowed the building to come down.

Mecham obtained a demolition permit in December 2007 on the condition that landscaping work begin within four months if construction of the project had not commenced.

After twice missing landscaping deadlines, Mecham paid for trees and bushes to be planted along the perimeter of the site. In June, he was given until Sept. 26 to backfill the site — a deadline the city extended twice, most recently in October.

In a letter to Mayor Ralph Becker in October, Mecham said backfilling the hole would cost about $80,000 — on top of the more than $50,000 he spent in June to landscape the perimeter of the site.

Messages left for Mecham seeking comment were not returned.


E-mail: jpage@desnews.com

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