Here’s what’s coming to the former site of the Southeast Market in Liberty Wells

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The developer who purchased the Southeast Market building on the north end of the Liberty Wells neighborhood has released plans for what she’s calling the “Milk Block.”

The development, which will include a mix of retail spaces and a handful of live/work apartments, will become home to a handful of local businesses opening their first brick-and-mortar spaces, including for a popular pie and pastry bakery.

The development will include a mix of new-build infill and historic preservation, and it will be anchored by the Wasatch Cooperative Market, which has spent 14 years working to build enough support to open a full-service grocery store specializing in local foods and other goods.

The Milk Block will become handsomely placed on the 9-Line, a multi-use trail connecting the east and west sides, along with a handful of other trails and paths that are safe for walking and commuting or recreating by bike.

The developer, Kathia Dang, said she plans to lean into the incoming trail, beginning renovations on the existing building in August when the city opens up access to utility work while extending the final pieces of the 9-Line.

“We wanted a gathering center,” Dang said at a community meeting on Thursday, where she unveiled the plans.

Existing (left) and planned (right) changes at the building that will become home to the Wasatch Cooperative Market. Renderings courtesy of Kathia Dang.

For Dang, who has specialized in infill and retrofit projects along 900 South, the project is personal. She grew up in the neighborhood after her mother fled Vietnam in 1975, living near 1300 South 300 East.

Dang calls the development the Milk Block, leaning into 900 South’s honorary title as Harvey Milk Boulevard, named after one of the first openly gay public officials in the U.S.

In addition to the street’s honorary title, Dang pointed out that Harvey Milk said in a speech while standing in the Castro district of San Francisco that he believed in building community one neighborhood at a time. Dang said in that spirit she intended to build community one block at a time.

As an homage to the namesake, Dang is in search of a sculptor to erect a focal point on the property. She’s also searching for a muralist to paint the back of a new commercial building that will also front 900 South closer to Denver Street.

That new commercial building will become home to Pie Party, a popular baker at the local farmers’ market, Dang said. The new location is expected to be open for lunch and dinner.

The businesses will join the co-op, along with Manoli’s restaurant, a spa above Manoli’s and Pho 28 as the first brick and mortar shops for local businesses located on the Milk Block.

The block will also become home to MOZZ Artisan Pizza, which first opened in Provo.

The Wasatch Co-op has been working to gather enough members to open store since 2009. The campaign recently crossed the threshold where it had enough members to search for a building. It was initially working with Colmena Group to open up on the Sears Block. Not long after the Colmena project fell through, the co-op campaign started working with Dang.

“We only support small businesses,” Dang said.

The owners of Pho 28 will temporarily close during construction, during which Dang said they would travel to Vietnam for what she called a “sabbatical.” The owner will then open back up in the same location.

“We are going to build him a brand new space,” Dang said.

The Planning Commission recently approved the plans for the project.

Looking south from 900 South, with Manoli’s restaurant on the right, the Wasatch Cooperative Market center-right, and a new commercial building that will be home to Pie Party on the front left. Rendering courtesy of Kathia Dang.

Looking west from Denver Street. Rendering courtesy of Kathia Dang.

Looking north from Grace Court. Rendering courtesy of Kathia Dang.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to correct the name of a bakery and clarify a paraphrase from Harvey Milk.

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.