AMERICAN FORK — The owner of the Star Mill recently lost a legal battle that requires him to sell the property to a developer. Now the future of the American Fork landmark is in question.
Walk into the Star Mill and Daniel Copper, the owner, can tell you a story about just about everything he has inside. But he really loves to talk about the mill that sits at the bottom of a steep hill just east of 100 East on 600 North.
"The mill was originally built in 1888,” Copper said. “It burned down, according to the history books in 1907.”
It was rebuilt and produced Star Mill brand flour for several decades.
"This is the flour that was milled on Sept. 21, 1979, the last day the mill operated,” he said.
Copper said he felt a connection to the mill the first time he saw it and bought it in 1993. "It shows some of the early ingenuity of the early pioneers,” he said.
His hope was to create a historical village that included a hotel, restaurant and convention center, but his dream came to an abrupt halt on Dec. 13, 1993.
"Four months after I bought it, I fell off of this roof down three floors, landed on my head, and it took a little while to learn to talk and recover,” he said. It took him about two years to recover from his injuries.
For the last 20 years, he's used the mill to sell antiques and items salvaged from old homes and buildings. Two years ago, his family believed it was in the best interest of his health to sell the mill and adjacent property.
He received six bids from developers and accepted one from Big Stick Development, which stated the mill is a landmark that must be restored.
"That’s the reason Mother and I chose him out of the other five offers, because he said it must be restored,” Copper said.
But according to Copper, Big Stick Development would not put that in writing in the sale documents, so he backed out of the real estate contract. Big Stick sued, and last month a judge sided with the developer.
"Currently, I don't have enough money to file an appeal,” he said.
Now Copper hopes the developer will keep his word about preserving and restoring the mill. Several attempts to contact developer Nick Greer through his attorney were made, but no calls were returned.
Copper is planning a farewell event at the mill on the evening of March 25.