Another fire destroys Downtown building that was ready for demolition for new project

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A fire that destroyed a vacant commercial building at 220 S. 200 E. was the latest blaze to take out a building that developers were already planning to knock down.

The Chancellor Building was recently acquired by a group that includes J. Fisher Companies, the developer whose plans to build a mixed-use building near Ken Sanders’ bookstore has been stalled for nearly five years.

The group that owns the building obtained a demolition permit in May to knock down the structure, expanding a vacant swath of land along 200 East. Crews had not yet begun to tear down the Chancellor Building when a fire broke out overnight on Friday.

The permit, issued on May 2, was to demolish the Chancellor Building and parking structure at 220 S. 200 E., according to the city’s permits, which can be looked up via the Building Salt Lake Permitting Search map.

“The permit to demolish is in place, we just haven’t started yet,” said Karen Yarrington, a representative of the company that filed for the demolition permit. “There were some issues that we wanted to confirm.”

Looking north on 200 East in January 2021. The brick building, center, was slated to be demolished when it lit on fire on Friday, June 2, 2023. The Randi apartment building, shown here under construction, was evacuated. Photo by Building Salt Lake.

The fire prompted the evacuation of The Randi, the newly built apartment building immediately to the north, on the corner of 200 S. 200 E. Most of the units in The Randi remain evacuated, fire officials said.

It’s only the latest example of a vacant building that was destroyed by fire while developers were working toward demolition it.

In March, a fire swept through a building at 704 S. 400 W. in the Granary District. That’s the site where Urban Alfandre, a Building Salt Lake advertiser, was preparing to demolish and build a mixed-use building called Pacific Yard.

In October, a mixed-use development that was nearing completion in Sugar House was destroyed by a fire.

J. Fisher has not shared updated plans for the project that was being called Moda Luxe, at 250 S. 200 E.

Moda Luxe was first announced in 2018, when the developer planned to create a nine-story, 220-unit apartment building. The building was slated to be slightly taller than the 100 feet of height allowed by the current Downtown height limits.

That plan stalled as the state of Utah considered building a 10-story parking garage immediately west of the Moda Luxe site. That effort, which would have included space for parking for a private development that’s expected to replace Ken Sanders and retail shops on 300 South, was abandoned. The state is actively constructing a two-story liquor store.

It’s not clear what J. Fisher plans to do with the Chancellor Building, and who will be responsible for paying for its demolition.

City fire crews were working to minimize the threat of the building collapsing onto The Randi.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported the city was working to obtain a permit to demolish the structures. Perhaps they can use the one already in place.

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Posted by Taylor Anderson

Taylor Anderson grew up near Chicago and made his way West to study journalism at the University of Montana. He's been a staff writer for the Chicago Tribune, Bend Bulletin and Salt Lake Tribune. A move from Portland, Oregon, to Salt Lake City opened his eyes to the importance of good urban design for building strong neighborhoods. He lives on the border of the Liberty Wells and Ballpark neighborhoods.