Oct 27, 2022 - News

A gutting loss for Sugar House after fire rips through development

A huge fire burns at night in a large building on a city street with fire trucks.

The nearly-complete Sugar Alley apartment building burns in Sugar House. Image: via Salt Lake City Fire Department

A massive fire at a nearly-complete apartment complex is a devastating setback for Sugar House.

What happened: The Sugar Alley apartment complex was ravaged late Tuesday night by a fire that forced hundreds of neighbors to evacuate and showered ash over southeastern Salt Lake City.

Why it matters: The building was set to be the finishing touch on a long — and often painful—redevelopment in the neighborhood's central business district during the past 15 years.

  • About 200 apartments were set to open next year, bringing some relief to Salt Lake City's excruciatingly tight rental market.
  • The building was also going to house restaurants and shops on the ground floor, helping to make the neighborhood more walkable.

Yes, but: Now it could be years before the site is functional, Sugar House Community Council chair Landon Clark acknowledged.

Catch up quick: The building sits near 2100 South and Highland Drive, on a block that has seen years of upheaval and controversy related to stop-and-go development plans.

  • A developer in 2008 demolished much of the block, which had been a hipster neighborhood with popular local shops. Then the recession hit, and the heart of Sugar House was left empty for years — a blight known as the "Sugar Hole."
  • After new buildings and some tax dollars finally filled the Sugar Hole, the same developer ejected more businesses to the south, including two beloved bars, to build a clinic and office tower — but that also fell through.
  • The demolished site sat empty until another developer, Lowe Property Group, proposed the Sugar Alley project in 2019.

What they're saying: "It's devastating," Clark told Axios. "There's a lot of projects going on currently, and this is one that was just wrapping up."

  • Lowe was "on the forefront" of efforts to make Sugar House more pedestrian-friendly, Clark added.

What's next: Fire crews told KUTV they planned to begin demolishing part of the burned building Wednesday night.

  • Lowe didn't immediately return calls for comment.

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