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Blocked plan for Granite High property gets new life in 'phases'

(KUTV) After seven years of fighting, the former home of Granite High School is probably about to come down. But what will go in its place is a question that has divided South Salt Lake.

Now, a Get Gephardt investigation has found that some creative moves are currently underway that may have a once-blocked plan moving forward.

The 16 acres off 3300 South in South Salt Lake was once the home of the Granite Farmers. It will be, in part, home to a shopping district if developers get their way.

It's essentially the same plan that developers pitched a year ago that was blocked by the city after South Salt Lake's mayor vetoed a proposal that would have rezoned the land for commercial use. This time, there is a twist that gets around the city's power to block the development, at least for now.

Get Gephardt obtained a copy of the new sales agreement that, unlike previous agreements, states the land will be developed in "four phases."

Phases one, two and three are "residential" phases in which Garbett Homes will construct "single-family" homes. But, phase four will be "commercial."

Allowing businesses at the site is what has been controversial.

In March 2016, people from South Salt Lake turned out in droves to shout down a plan that would have allowed part of the development to be commercial, including putting in a Wal-Mart store. Ultimately, Mayor Cherie Wood listened to the outcry and blocked the development after it passed a narrow city council vote.

The new plan will allow the residential phases of the development to begin without approval from the city council or the mayor because the area is already zoned for residential use. All that stands in the way of breaking ground is a “yes” from the city’s planning commission, which the development will likely get on Thursday.

Still, that “yes” vote only gives the green-light to phases one, two and three. In order for phase four, the commercial phase, to go forward, developers would still require approval by the city council and the mayor to re-zone that portion of the property. But according to the new purchase contract, that ‘can’ has been kicked down the road as much as three years, until after the city's next mayoral election.

Mayor Cherie Wood refused to comment for this story.

Garbett Hones didn’t.

this is a sensitive property...
there are issues that are difficult to overcome.

Jacob Ballstaedt with Garbett said they recognize the Granite High building is a, “sensitive property,” and that developing it requires overcoming several difficult issues.

He said they want the project to move forward no matter who the mayor is, and noted they currently have an open dialogue with Wood.

"She's actually responded recently and has been working with us, which is positive," he said.

Ballstaedt said it’s too early to say what stores or types of stores South Salt Lake would get should phase four eventually be green-lit for commercial development.

"We don't have a solution yet. We have differing opinions, and it's going to take a little while to work it out. That's really the idea behind the extension and why that fourth phase is the last phase of the contract," he said.

When asked whether or not a Wal-Mart store coming to the community was off the table, based on the previous outcry and mayoral veto, Ballstaedt said, "No, I don't think so. Not for us, it's not."

The project is also being developed by Wasatch Properties, which is who would be managing that future commercial part of this land. Wastach didn't want to talk about any of this on camera but, by phone, echoed what Garbett Homes stated.

A spokesperson said Wasatch is excited for the project to move forward. As far as what might go into the future-commercial part of the land, they said they are discussing options but wouldn't comment on whether or not Wal-Mart is still on the table.

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