Salt Lake City is giving the developer of a stalled Sugar House project another 10 days to start cleaning up his mess and living up to the conditions of his demolition permit.
City officials sent a letter to Craig Mecham on Friday outlining clean-up requirements and setting a new timetable for installation of landscaping on the former Granite block of Sugar House.
The city is requiring that backfilling and landscaping at the construction site begin within 10 days and be completed within 30 days of receipt of the letter.
Clean-up mandates include the immediate securing of the site with sturdy fencing that keeps people from entering anywhere other than through a locking gate and removal of all construction debris visible from the construction site or the public right of way.
The developer also must remove as much of the former Blue Boutique building as possible and paint what remains to match the color and shade of the existing buildings.
"The conditions on the site constitute an obvious visual blight on the neighborhood," writes Orion Goff, Salt Lake City building official.
In January, Craig Mecham Investments began demolishing buildings at the site in preparation to build two seven-story buildings with a mix of retail, office and residential space.
Demolition work on the project stalled when it was discovered that a wall of the mostly demolished Blue Boutique building shares support structure with an abutting building owned by Rockwood Investment Associates. The developers are in negotiations with Rockwood to solve the problem, according to a May 15 letter Mecham sent to Goff.
"I do believe that an agreement is imminent," Mecham wrote.
The Deseret News obtained both letters through the Government Records and Access Management Act.
Mecham contends that the common wall is on Mecham Investments' property, according to the letter, but removal of the wall would leave the Rockwood building currently occupied by a tenant without an east wall.
The developer requested in the letter that the city extend the deadlines to complete the demolition and landscaping for 40 days to allow time to resolve the issue of the shared wall.
"The circumstances that have given rise to the delay in the demolition have been beyond our control," Mecham wrote. "However, we are still very committed to this project and want to continue to work with the city in a collaborative way to achieve this development."
Soren Simonsen, who represents much of Sugar House on the Salt Lake City Council, said he doesn't believe the city should be granting such extensions.
Mecham used what Simonsen calls a loophole in the approval process for demolitions that allows developers to submit a landscaping plan and begin work before receiving full site approval. Simonsen is working with a council subcommittee to eliminate the landscaping option.
"I think we ought to get the landscaping installed," Simonsen said. "Then we have time to focus on taking the next steps without worrying about what harmful affects are being caused by having a site that is sitting there in a really blighted condition."
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