SO JUST HOW MUCH DID Larry Miller, who once paid rent in the original Salt Palace, know in advance about the location of the new Salt Palace recommended to be built in Sandy, across the street, as it turns out, from Miller's new Jordan Commons development already under construction?Calculated or just lucky? Who's to say? But with Miller, never bet against just lucky. This is a man who started out in the business world behind a parts counter, selling alternators.
Twenty years ago, he went into big debt to open his first auto dealership in Murray, selling Toyotas when Toyotas weren't cool, and neither was Murray.
The Jazz weren't all that cool, for that matter, when Miller bought them from Sam Battistone for $18 million in 1986.
How could Miller have known an NBA bull market was just around the corner and within two years the franchise would be worth $100 million? (Sam Battistone. Nice guy. But he went to the same buy high-sell low school of economics I graduated from. Sam's specialty was treating loans like income).
Maybe Larry Miller, whose auto empire now spans six states, had no idea you'd be able to look down from the penthouse offices at Jordan Commons and see Salt Palace South, which is like moving into a new neighborhood and discovering Cindy Crawford moved in next door.
In addition to business offices, Miller's Sandy complex will feature shops, restaurants and a 14-plex movie theater - which could come in handy for any conventioneers in the area.
The complex is situated on the block where the old Jordan High School once stood. I have a close personal connection to the area, since I graduated from the old Jordan High and grew up across the street, where my grandfather Adolph settled after arriving from Sweden. (I know Adolph had no idea the Salt Palace might be coming.)
I like the thought that they'll be showing movies on the site of my old high school all day every day - just like Mr. Milne used to in American History.
The new Jordan High was finished two years ago, seriously numbering the days of the old Jordan High, circa 1914.
The old building went out proud, however. Prior to the demolition, ABC did a TV movie there. Perhaps you saw "Siege at Johnson High." It was filmed on site and it starred Henry Winkler, the Fonz, as a bungling sheriff who rises to the occasion, and Rick Schroder, who played a disturbed student who takes his classmates hostage at rifle-point.
They filmed Schroder's down-and-out home life in the basement of the house across the street - the very house my dad built and I grew up in. Schroder flips out in the basement - eerie, I think, since the same thing happened to my brother.
I'm not terribly emotional over the changes in my old neighborhood. But my sister Karen is. She still lives there, in a house next to our old family house, with her husband, my brother-in-law, Joe.
Karen cried when the wrecking balls leveled the old Jordan High. She cried when Larry Miller announced plans for the 14-plex - and she likes movies. (Karen could out-cry Larry Miller; I'd bet on it.) To make herself feel better, she bought about a hundred throws with a likeness of Jordan High and sent them to everybody in the family.
She and Joe aren't too sure about the new neighbors about to move in. To them, the good old days are when the kids used to drag race on the street outside their house and sneak out of third period and smoke cigarettes.
They've had several meetings with the Miller group, and Larry has been nice to them. He sent Karen and Joe, and all the neighbors on 9270 South, gift certificates for a stay at the Cottontree Inn. Although, so far, they're still looking for the free playoff tickets and Toyotas.
The Salt Palace on one side. My sister Karen on the other. As far as I'm concerned, Larry Miller lucked out twice.