Sugar House is a neighborhood in Salt Lake City, Utah, United States. One of the city's oldest neighborhoods, the name is officially two words (Sugar House) although it is often written as one (Sugarhouse). Sugar House is also the site of Westminster College.
Sugar House was established in 1853, six years after Brigham Young led the Mormon settlers into the valley. Its name derives from the sugar beet test factory of the Deseret Manufacturing Company, which was established in a former blacksmith shop in the area. The name came as a suggestion from Margaret McMeans Smoot, the wife of then mayor of Salt Lake City, Abraham O. Smoot.
Sugar House Prison, the first Utah state prison, was located in Sugar House during the 19th century and early 20th century. The prison was closed in 1951 and moved to Draper. All of the buildings were torn down and the land was converted into Sugar House Park and Highland High School. In 1928, at the dedication ceremony of the Sprague Library, Mayor John F. Bowman suggested Sugar House from then on be referred to as "South East Salt Lake City." This suggestion was rejected.
In the early 20th century, the corner of 1100 East and 2100 South was known as "furniture row" because three furniture stores were located there. Two have closed and one, Sterling Furniture, remains. Rockwood Furniture closed its doors in 1999 and Granite Furniture closed its Sugar House location in 2004, after more than 80 years of operation. Granite Furniture still has a West Jordan store at 1475 W. 9000 S.
During the 1980s, Sugar House became run down and crime ridden. Sugar House Park was notorious for drugs, crime, and illicit rendezvous. At the time, the Community Council and the Salt Lake City Planning Dept created a Master Plan for redevelopment. The goal was to create new parks and public buildings, manage traffic, prevent the residential areas from being broken up by multifamily units, and structure business redevelopment. The Community Council led the way for downzoning to stabilize the neighborhood character. They also worked with the City to develop parks, repair sidewalks, divert traffic away form residential areas and give the area a new start for families. Sugar House soon became the "in" place to live.
In 1998 The Commons, a shopping center located just east of the town center ("Granite Block") and adjacent to the "Sugar House Center", was constructed in response to low patronage and has since been the target of both praise and criticism. Supporters of the project argue that The Commons was a boon to the area, citing increased economic growth soon after opening. Detractors argue that the cost of development coupled with competition from major retailers such as Barnes & Noble and Old Navy closed-out many small businesses.
A private effort was started by Doug White to establish a vintage style rail trolley to connect the Sugar House Business District to the TRAX station on 2100 South in South Salt Lake. In December 2006 the Utah Transit Authority, Salt Lake City, and South Salt Lake commissioned a Transportation Alternatives Study to examine transit possibilities on the Sugar House Spur. The study determined that a trolley running along a pre-existing rail line was the preferred alternative. In May 2009, Mayor Ralph Becker stated that the project could be complete by 2012, will cost $40 million to $50 million, and that he hopes it is the beginning of a new streetcar system across the city.
In September 2007, the owner of the Granite Block development on the corner of 1100 East and 2100 South, the site of many independent shops, announced plans to redevelop the area. In early 2008 the buildings on the eastern half of Granite Block were demolished in preparation for construction; Craig Mecham claims that the buildings "[were] not safe" due to their age. As replacement, Mecham plans to construct two seven-story buildings, one with office space and one with condos, with ground-level retail. Residents and business owners in the area have shown disapproval of the plans and fear that redevelopment will prevent local businesses from thriving and that big business and chain stores will dominate on and off the court. The fenced-off demolition site remains a scar-like crater and an ongoing source of controversy in the neighborhood. The recession of 2008-09 has at least temporarily put a halt to the project.
On December 1, 2010, developer Craig Mecham submitted an overhauled development plan for what had come to be derisively called the "Sugar Hole", eliminating the originally planned office space and replacing the condos with apartments. The street-level retail would remain as originally proposed.