Granite High School demolition, redevelopment moving forward

SOUTH SALT LAKE, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) - Plans to tear down the old Granite High School are moving forward.   The city is working with developers to build dozens of homes, a retail center, and maybe even a library.

In a joint-contract to develop the 27 acres of land at and around the boarded-up building, Garbett Homes and Wasatch Group are making their plans official. 

"We're actively now working on engineering," said Jacob Ballstaedt of Garbett Homes.

Each partner is handling its own part of the project, which is split between residential and commercial zoning.  The developers say that they will acquire the land in four phases over the next several years, with Garbett making the first move.

"Our homes will likely start in the low $300 thousands.  They'll be bigger lots... three bedroom, four bedrooms, two- and three-garages," Ballstaedt told Good 4 Utah's Ali Monsen. 

Ballstaedt says the home builder recently bought five and a half acres on the south side of the school, where project leaders plan to build 31 of the 76 single family homes approved for the area.

"The [city] council gave really clear direction to us as developers," Ballstaedt reiterated, adding that the City of South Salt Lake is also now working with Wasatch Group on the commercial side of development and (fourth phase of the project).

While nothing commercial is set in stone, Ballstaedt says the group is leaning toward building a big retail center, anchored by some kind of grocery store.  

"Walmart has expressed interest.  [Wasatch] has pursued other retailers as well," he explained. 

For eight years, the fate of the 100 year-old school has sparked controversy among residents and others, including one group that is currently asking for a chance to preserve the building.  For the third time, the Utah Arts Alliance is making a bid to restore the infrastructure of Granite High School and turn it into an arts and cultural center. 

"Artists can come rent space, they can create art, there'll be a retail forefront, possibly restaurants... Something that's highly unique," said Merili Carter of the alliance.

While the offer likely will not make a big enough return on investment, stakeholders say they understand the concern and promise to work with partners to make a meaningful community gathering place, one way or the other.

"I think it makes sense to replace one institution of learning with another," Ballstaedt said, adding that a county library seems to be emerging as a favorable option.

Garbett Homes anticipates breaking ground on its first phase of homes in late-spring.

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