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BENNETT BUILDING DECLARED BLIGHTED

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There was no doubt in anyone's mind that the City Council would declare the old Bennett Glass and Paint building a neighborhood blight. Wednesday, no one was disappointed.

In a unanimous vote to clean up the corner of 2100 South and 300 West, the City Council agreed the abandoned, deteriorating building - once the height of grace and high-rise prominence - is indeed a blight. The council, which also acts as the city's redevelopment agency board of directors, will host a March 20 public hearing to field input on what to do with the building."It was too blatantly blighted (to not have been declared such)," Councilwoman Judy Siebach said. "When you get everybody in the city and state saying `blight it,' that's what you do."

City Attorney Kevin Watkins said owners Libra Warehouse and Storage can legally demolish the 10-story building at any time. Demolition costs, however have been estimated at $250,000. Paul Jensen, Libra's vice president, has been trying for more than a year to secure RDA money to turn the site into a consortium of hotel, retail and office space. Jensen was unavailable at press time.

Siebach says she'd like to see the high-profile corner redeveloped into "something resident-friendly." Although Utah Transit Authority is going along with its plans to run a light-rail line just east of the Bennett building, Sie-bach said a discount chain store like Target or Kmart would be a good fit. R.C. Willey and Home Depot jockey either side of the old paint manufacturing warehouse. Siebach said a development complementing the current mix of retail is highly desirable.

Watkins said a final plan for development is expected by the end of April. The City Council has the final word on what will eventually go on the site.