Preservation Debate in Capitol Hill Underway | Buzz Blog
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Preservation Debate in Capitol Hill Underway

Nine historic houses could meet their maker.


  • DW Harris

Nine tumbledown houses along a cul de sac in the Capitol Hill Historic District offer a glimpse into working-class life more than 100 years in the past, argued Tom Carter.

Carter spoke Thursday night at a Salt Lake City Historic Landmark Commission meeting—a board he used to sit on—urging that a request to raze the houses be denied. A professor emeritus of architectural history at the University of Utah’s College of Architecture and Planning, he’s spent the last four years studying preservation and restoration.

“Clearly, they’re part of the urbanization of this area in the years after the railroad came in the 1870s,” he said. “They’re really an important part of the historic path of this neighborhood, which is working class and diverse.”

The houses line Bishop Place, a dead-end street that juts east off 300 West between 400 and 500 North. The structures are a mixture of small wood and brick. As one might expect, the brick buildings are in better shape.

Carter noted the buildings were infilled with vertical adobe installation, an innovation he’d never seen before. And although the buildings are run down, he added, they are salvageable.

Resident Cindy Cromer said arguments that they need to be destroyed because they are contaminated with meth, lead and asbestos is a red herring.

“I’ve dealt with them all—lead and asbestos many times,” she said. “Here’s the truth: if you demolish a structure, you have to deal with the same regulations regarding asbestos as you do to maintain the structure.”

International Real Estate Solutions owns the buildings and plans to new single-family homes along the street. Bob Springmeyer, chairman of Bonneville Research, represented the property owner at Thursday’s meeting.

“Frankly, we look forward to rapidly and expeditiously entering into” the next phase, he said.

Salt Lake City ordinance adds regulations to historic buildings and buildings in historic districts.

The board evaluates demolition requests based on a list of criteria, including the physical integrity, impact to the streetscape, impact to the district as a whole, the ability to reuse the site, the ability to redevelop the landscape, whether the owner has allowed the buildings to fall into disrepair and whether a denial of demolition would cause an “economic hardship.”

The board decided to table the application until a determination of the economic hardship was made.

Springmeyer said he expected the board to deny the request, prompting the property owner to appeal to an ad hoc economic hardship subcommittee. He declined to comment further after the meeting.