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Developer hopes to build 130 homes on old Granite High property

SHARE Developer hopes to build 130 homes on old Granite High property

SOUTH SALT LAKE — There have been multiple failed proposals to revamp the closed Granite High School campus, but a proposal by Garbett Homes to build 130 houses there looks like it may become set in stone.

The old Granite High School building, 3305 S. 500 East, was closed by the Granite School District after the class of 2009 graduated. The closure was due to declining enrollment, high per-student costs and high costs of safety upgrades.

The property was determined to be a surplus by the school board in 2010 and the 26.85 acres of land was advertised for sale after the board's decision, according to a Granite School District document.

"It's not being used as an educational resource, so it is a drain on our resources to maintain," said district spokesman Ben Horsley. "Generally the board has been amenable to the idea of obtaining the sale of this property, since the funds go to other capital projects in the district."

The first project proposal for the property was to convert the infrastructure into a city civic, arts and education center. That failed after a narrow community vote against a $25 million bond required to fund the project.

"It was a very close vote, but the City Council at that time chose to listen to the people's vote," said South Salt Lake Mayor Cherie Wood.

Another plan, by Woodbury Corporation and Redman Movies and Stories, was to convert the high school into a motion picture and television production studio. But after the businesses decided they could not fund it, the property was listed again — this time with the assistance of a commercial broker.

From January to February, the school district's commercial broker for the property suggested that it be sold to the Wasatch Residential group and Garbett Homes development partnership for the price of $10.6 million.

All of the offers made on the property were from housing developers and the official decision to accept the suggested bid was made in March by the school board, according to Horsley.

Since signing the contract to purchase the property, Garbett Homes has been formulating diverse plans for the property, which ultimately will need to be approved by the city.

"We submitted non-formal proposals in the past that we have shown staff, the mayor and the City Council to get ideas of what they are interested in," said Jacob Ballstaedt of Garbett Homes.

The current formal proposal by Garbett Homes would transform the property into a residential space with 130 homes.

"This plan is based on the allowable zone, the existing zone is just residential with a minimum of 6,000 square-foot lots, the ones we submitted vary in size," said Ballstaedt about the concept review plan submitted to the city. "I'm sure there will be some changes, we will have some feedback from the city. This is a preliminary concept plan and there is still work to do."

If all goes as planned, Ballstaedt says construction on the homes will begin next year.

"We are excited to be there," he said. "We think that South Salt Lake is a great location. We want to build something that the city and neighbors are happy with — which isn't easy."

Many neighbors in the area are concerned about the developers getting rid of the open green space around the property — specifically the grassy fields once used for sporting events and the Freedom Festival fireworks show. However, because the plan to preserve the open space by creating a community center failed by nine votes in 2010, it may be too late for that.

"We were very concerned four years ago when the bond did not pass for the city to purchase the property from the school district and build a rec center and maintain the green space," said Wood. "The problem with green space is, once it's developed, you just don't get that green space back."

If all goes according to plan, the approval from the city could be made within the next six months, construction crews would then take the next two or three months to tear down the school and then another three months to reroute pipes before beginning construction of the homes.

Email: chansen@deseretnews.com