This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2007, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
SOUTH SALT LAKE - With urban renewal knocking at their front doors, some mom-and-pop businesses in this central Salt Lake Valley city fear they will be forced to exit out the back.
"Say I live next door to you and I want to build a pool. So I have plans drawn up with a pool where your house is. That's pretty presumptuous," Tiffanie Provost of Manny's Bar and Grill told South Salt Lake City Council members this week.
She and her father, Tony Vina, bought the popular watering hole at 2100 South and Main Street about four years ago. She says the 30-year-old tavern continues to thrive despite signs of decay throughout the worn blocks west of State Street.
Despite their protests, the council, acting as the Redevelopment Agency Board, unanimously declared several blocks blighted, paving the way for an urban makeover and, if the city chooses, property condemnation.
The proposed 31.6-acre Market Station redevelopment project stretches from Main Street to State Street and 2100 South to 2330 South. It also juts east of State Street to include the AMF Ritz Classic Lanes bowling alley, an entertainment landmark on a busy thoroughfare.
A study by Salt Lake City-based Bonneville Research found at least four blight factors in each of the area's 51 parcels.
In some instances, the blight designation - based on criteria enacted into state law in 2006 - seemed undeniable. The area includes deteriorating structures, buckled sidewalks, abandoned buildings and high crime.
But some city officials and landowners complained that almost any property could qualify under the new guidelines. For example, any building built before 1999, with no upgrades since, would fail to comply with current code.
"The bar is set so low," said City Councilman Bill Anderson, who nonetheless supported the designation to open the door for investment of future tax dollars to revitalize the run-down area.
Some business owners, including the 7-Eleven at 2102 S. State St., want out of the project area. And Shannon Valdez, who owns Central Collision Center at 2301 S. Main St., noted her successful business occupies a building that is only seven years old.
After state lawmakers adopted further changes earlier this year, the blight label also allows governments to wield eminent domain to snatch property from unwilling sellers.
"[Condemnation] wasn't on the radar screen and wasn't at all why we entered into this," Councilman John Weaver said.
Market Station, a mixed-use development conceived by Steve Aste of Park City and San Francisco-based Cascade Development Partners, one day could be connected by light rail or streetcar to the bustling Sugar House business district.
The Central Pointe TRAX station already provides north-south transit within two blocks of the proposed development.
The developer said Thursday that condemnation is not a tool he sought or wants to use.
"We've been willing to sign an agreement that we don't care about eminent domain," Aste said, adding that he and partner Marty Newton have pursued good-faith negotiations with area property owners for two years. "We care about a redevelopment project."