LOGAN – Some property owners of downtown businesses are voicing their concerns about a proposal to redevelop what is commonly referred to as the Emporium property in Logan. Of particular concern is what developers are proposing for parking.
George Daines, CEO of Cache Valley Bank, is concerned that Logan City is not seeking consensus from downtown property owners affected by the new development and how it could be detrimental for their customers. He claims that Logan City officials need to recognize the financial investment that was made by property owners 50 years ago when a special district was formed to create a parking lot in the interior of the block.
“If this parking was purchased by these people,” Daines asked, “with the covenant that it would be public parking for their buildings, (shouldn’t they) have the right to say if something is equivalent or not?”
The process to create the Off-Street Parking Improvement District No. 15 began in May 1966. A resolution was passed in December 1967 – with some modifications in February 1968 – and the land finally acquired and district formed in June 1971. The land owners collectively contributed the costs to acquire the properties necessary to create the parking lot and improve the area to accommodate public parking, accounting for 88.3% of the total $240,000. Logan City also participated with the remaining amount. A total of 217 stalls were created and title of the land was conveyed to Logan City, which would be responsible for the maintenance and improvements to the parking district.
While the proposal that was revealed in September includes a parking terrace, it also calls for a 136 unit apartment complex that would eliminate dozens of stalls immediately behind retail and restaurant businesses which rely on proximity of parking to their businesses. Access to the parking terrace would only be off of 100 West.
Tony Johnson, whose company owns the building currently occupied by the Waffle Iron and the Crepery on Center Street, also has concerns that the current proposal eliminates too many parking stalls behind those two restaurants, with another he has in the works. He is also concerned that Logan City is moving in a direction that will tear down the Emporium before a firm plan is in place. He believed that the project proposal would be presented before the Logan City Historical Committee on Monday, Nov. 4. If the committee grants what is currently proposed, Daines and Johnson believe demolition would begin immediately.
“Demolishing the buildings without something being certain, or at least more certain, is problematic,” Johnson said. “It’s putting the cart before the horse. All the owners there, and we’ve spoken with several of them, all want to see improvement. The city’s intentions are good, but we want to look at this closer and make sure all rights are protected and voices are heard.”
“We would like to see the design for the whole thing before they tear down the building. And they are saying, ‘No, they want to tear down the building before we get the design decided.’ I’m against that.”
Both Daines and Johnson are concerned that tearing down the buildings first is a ploy to get consensus before consensus exists, because nobody wants to see a gaping hole in the middle of the city.
“We don’t think destruction should occur here until there is a consensus built over what is going to be done with the block,” Daines added.
The idea of having so many residential units in the middle of downtown is appealing, but there needs to be appropriate parking for them. Daines wondered if those units could simply be located above the parking structure, not next to it. And is also concerned that the city hasn’t actively tried to explore all possible uses of the Emporium buildings.
“We think that the buildings could be rapidly sold at good prices and businesses put back in them if this public parking was left as it is. Buyers would come forward and buy those buildings.”
No offers have been made on the buildings, Daines claimed, because the city has not made it clear what it intends to do with the property.
Daines also said he is very aware of a perceived conflict that exists since his sister-in-law is the current mayor and he owns several downtown properties. He made it clear his ownership of those properties existed before Holly Daines became the mayor, and he has always been careful about not seeking any favors because of that relationship, or the fact that his father was a former mayor of Logan.