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Development Threatens Historic Buildings In Downtown Logan

LOGAN, Utah – Some longtime business owners in downtown Logan have expressed concerns that the city’s current plans to revitalize downtown could mean demolishing the old Emporium building.

While the retail business has changed dramatically over the years, Vint Larsen said his family business, Al’s Trophies & Frames, has remained because of something that online retailers can’t offer – a personal touch.

“It’s been a great business, and provided for hundreds of kids that have worked for us over the years,” Larsen said. “These kids become our family and our friends, and we love to see them succeed in life.”

He’s watched the downtown area change over the years, and seen many businesses leave. The Emporium building, he said, is a piece of history in the area that should be preserved.

“When I was a child, that was JC Penney. It was a thriving metropolis down here. This is where downtown Logan and Cache Valley did business,” Larsen said. “My opinion is the Emporium should be saved and used for retail. I think there’s use for it still, rather than having it torn down.”

Current plans proposed for the area would have the building demolished this winter – with an apartment complex, parking terrace, and plaza, with splash pad and ice rink, spanning into the current parking area behind the structure.

Larsen was concerned that those plans not only take out the Emporium, but could also make things difficult for business owners who are still downtown.

“In their plan, they left no room for semi-truck access for delivery, which is the lifeblood of small business,” Larsen explained. “That’s kind of their, ‘If you build it they will come’ attitude. It was a great movie, but as you walk around downtown Logan, you’ll notice there’s not a lot of places to shop.”

Mayor Holly Daines said the plans have not been finalized, and have been in the works for over two years. During that time, the Emporium building has sat empty.

“Research shows that some things that people really want are gathering places, activities, things that make them want to come down, things they can’t get by clicking a mouse and having something delivered to their door,” Daines said. “I just think it would be a really great gathering place, a wonderful opportunity for our citizens, and that was the point when the city bought this building a few years ago. No one had wanted it for a long time. It stood empty for a long time.”

Larsen still hoped the city will consider keeping the Emporium. One proposed plan that he would like to see move forward, includes moving business, and a neighboring furniture store into the Emporium, while putting the development plans to the north, where they are currently located.

“Unfortunately, the city administration didn’t include us – the people on this block, the merchants – in the planning and discussion with the developer on what we need to run our businesses successfully,” Larsen said.

While the old Emporium is not registered as a historic building, its two neighboring buildings have been.

The mayor said because the three buildings are connected on the third floor, all three would have to be demolished. The city would ultimately need the approval of the Historic Preservation Committee.

Daines said the developers were expected to present an alternate plan next week. It would include fewer apartments than the original proposal.

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