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South Salt Lake may partner on commercial development of Granite High campus

Published: Monday, Aug. 13 2012 9:40 p.m. MDT

SOUTH SALT LAKE — Voters said no to a civic center, so city leaders are turning to the private sector to develop the former Granite High School campus.

Sharen Hauri, South Salt Lake's urban design director, said the city hopes to make an announcement in early September about a proposed commercial use for the campus.

Thanks to a law passed during the 2012 Legislature, South Salt Lake has the option to partner with the private sector to purchase and develop 26 acres from the Granite School District as surplus property.

"We are working through the details of a potential purchase," Hauri said. "If all goes well, in a couple more weeks we will have a purchase agreement with them and be ready to make an announcement."

But city officials aren't sure how or if the 105-year-old Granite High building would be incorporated into the development, she said.

Reusing the building and others on the property, as well as preserving the open space, were listed as priorities for the city when it issued a request for proposals for a development partner on the project.

But if the developer chooses not to include the Granite High building in its proposal, the city may still move forward with the project, Hauri said.

"They've generally got a stamp of approval as something that's appropriate for this neighborhood and a good addition to the city," she said of the proposed development.

A $25 million bond proposal to reuse Granite High and transform its campus into a civic center for arts, recreation and education was defeated in November by just five votes — 1,006 to 1,001.

Since then, city leaders have been exploring other options for purchasing the former high school.

A bill sponsored by Sen. Ben McAdams, D-Salt Lake City, and passed unanimously in both houses during the legislative session amended Utah's code to allow government entities to partner with the private sector in the purchase and development of surplus property.

That has allowed South Salt Lake to seek a partner to come up with the $8.7 million Granite School District wants for the property.

Last week, the Granite Board of Education extended its lease/purchase agreement with South Salt Lake, giving the city more time to find a partner on the project.

E-mail: jpage@desnews.com

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