Historic Preservation Committee approves demolition of Emporium

This artist's rendering is an aerial view of the Center Block Plaza that Logan city officials plan to construct in the footprint of the vacant Emporium Building, which is now slated for demolition.

LOGAN – The Historic Preservation Committee (HPC) has finally given its blessing to Mayor Holly Daines’ ambitious plan for the redevelopment of the Center Block area of downtown Logan.

A unanimous vote by HPC members on Monday cleared the way for demolition of three buildings in the Center Block of Main Street – including the iconic Emporium – and construction of a public plaza and associated improvements.

Those amenities will include a stage, a splash-pad and an administration building at the western edge of the property and a portable ice rink in winter.

That decision removed the final impediment to the city’s Center Block redevelopment plan and HPC member Bronwyn O’Hara praised the mayor for the political courage that kept her visionary plan alive in the face of opposition by some members of the business community and the public.

Daines said that the final plan for the Center Block plaza presented Monday incorporated many suggestions from HPC members and concerned city residents.

Only one local resident raised a concern about the plan at HPC meeting, questioning whether entertainment events on the plaza’s stage might prove distracting to drivers on Main Street.

Logan’s so-called Center Block is bounded by Center St. on the south, Main St. on the east, 100 North on the north and 100 West to the west.

Acting in their capacity as the Logan Redevelopment Agency, the members of the Logan City Council earmarked nearly $6 million in city funds for the plaza project in early March.

During that meeting, Daines explained that the price tag for the crown jewel of the city’s downtown redevelopment initiative was $4.3 million, including about $1.3 million for the demolition of the vacant Emporium and adjacent structures; about $2.1 million for construction of the public plaza; around $400,000 for the portable ice rink; and, about $440,000 for construction of an outdoor stage and an administration building.

City officials also requested another redevelopment grant in the amount of nearly $1.6 million for the remodeling of structures adjacent to the proposed plaza to the south at 41 and 45 North Main Street.

During the HPC meeting Monday, Daines explained that those historically significant structures would be remodeled to serve as a restaurant facility and hopefully sold to commercial interests.

Following the RDA grant award in March, the favorable decision by the HPC on Monday was almost guaranteed.

In 2019, the HPC derailed the city’s demolition plans for the Center Block area because previous historic surveys had found the properties at 41, 45, 47 and 67 North Main to be historically significant.

But HPC members were much more receptive toward a preliminary outline of the current Center Block plaza concept unofficially presented to them in the fall of 2020.

That revision of the proposal eliminated plans for a multi-story residential complex within the Center Block and included the preservation of the historic structures at 41 and 45 North Main Street.

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