Sugar House Granite Block Funding Stalled
September 22nd, 2008
Sugar House Granite Block gets approval, but funding is tenuous.
Craig Mecham received approval from the Salt Lake City Planning Commission on his $200 million mixed-use retail condominium project for the Sugar House Granite Block, but construction wont begin any time soon.
Mecham has been very generous to Utah Stories in providing candid answers to our questions over the course of the project. But until he got the go-ahead with the project he would not return our phone calls regarding the rumors that financiers had dropped out in backing the project.
On the phone with Mecham this afternoon he was reluctant to accept my congratulations for the approval, because it is true that original financiers of the project have apparently gotten cold feet about investing such a large sum during volatile market conditions.
We asked Mecham if he would consider modifying the budget and the scope of the project if his financing doesn't come through, Mecham said, "I don't know what we would do, there are a lot of options available to us because we own the land outright. "
Mecham couldn't comment or provide any dates on when construction could begin or if it is certain that it will indeed begin. Currently, Mecham is waiting on his financiers to once again back the project under the current plans. The only financier Mecham would comment on by name is Zions Bank. Who he says "currently has their own problems right now."
It seems that the overall sunny real estate market in Salt Lake City and Sugar House -- which seemed nearly imune to the national problems -- has recently softened. Westgate Condominiums in downtown, are offering similar high-end upscale condominiums to what Mecham is proposing. As of date Westgate has only sold one out of 16 units of their loft unites in the past three months. Westgate prices range from the mid $200 thousand to upper $500 thousand.
So after nearly a year and a half the question remains: Will the Sugar House Granite Block become another Gateway? I suppose we wont have a decisive answer any time soon. However, there are some good signs in the area that the Granite Block may receive the needed funding one day. Currently, there are three other large development projects in the works in Sugar House. All three have complete funding and two (both on 900 East, South of 2100 South), are currently under construction. If the Granite Block ends up scaling back designs, residents can rest assured that the developers and the community haven't given up. Omar Abou-Ismail, Owner of Raw Food Living Cuisine, says if the project falls through "maybe they could build several large green houses where Sugar House residents could enjoy fresh local produce."
If any reader would like to modify Mecham's plans for greenhouses instead of upscale condos, we will gladly share the designs with the Sugar House public.
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