Facebook Twitter

Planners agree: Mansion stays

Deseret Industries says it needs site for docks, parking stalls

SHARE Planners agree: Mansion stays

A Sugar House mansion won't be razed to make way for a thrift store's loading docks and drive-through donation drop-off zones.

The Salt Lake City Planning Commission on Wednesday approved a conditional use application, clearing the way for Deseret Industries to convert the former Circuit City big-box store, 724 E. 2100 South, but placed a restriction on the home's demolition.

"We're supposed to improve the character of the area," Commissioner Susie McHugh said. "I don't see how removing the house ... improves the looks."

The house in question was the one-time home of carpenter Hyrum Jensen.

Jensen, "the polygamist who settled Fairmont" as one resident called him, owned much of the land between 700 East and Highland Drive from 2100 South to 3300 South and built the mansion as his second Salt Lake home.

The building, however, has been converted into an office space and is not currently on any historic register, officials said.

Still, many in the community supported keeping the building intact.

"We believe that demolishing another small, historic building in Sugar House would be a significant loss to providing affordable space to businesses in a building that defines the historic character of the neighborhood," the Utah Heritage Foundation said in a news statement.

"I would be very disappointed if the historic structure were demolished," Councilman Soren Simonsen told the Deseret News. "Really, what I would love to see is a transformation of that building from one that turns its back on the street to one that embraces the community. I think then it really becomes an asset in terms of developing character."

Citing concerns about parking and traffic congestion, Deseret Industries has been looking to relocate from its home on Highland Drive for nearly a decade.

The commission and members of the Sugar House Community Council both lauded the thrift store's efforts to revitalize the old Circuit City building, but raised concerns about razing the mansion.

"I can't believe we're discussing tearing down a historic mansion," said Ira Hinckley, one of just a handful of people who spoke out against demolition Wednesday night. "We have an abysmal record in this city of tearing down our heritage."

Some on the commission said they believed the Circuit City lot, which has nearly 100 parking spaces above the required number, has enough space to complete the project without destroying the home.

Craig Ames, the project's architect, said he believed the home need to be moved in order to complete the project. Extra stalls, he said, would be used for employees.

"We have empathy and sympathy to those concerns about losing the Jensen home," Ames said. "We've looked long and hard about how to do this without the dock addition. However, the D.I. cannot bring its full program of services to this location without a larger footprint."

"We have not been able to find an adequate way to use that home," he added.

The thrift store does not currently own either the Circuit City building or the Jensen mansion, although both properties are under contract.