Longtime Art School Gets Eviction Notice In South Salt Lake

May 11, 2021, 6:03 PM | Updated: 8:50 pm

SOUTH SALT LAKE, Utah — A local art school that has nearly 60 years of history has been given three days to clear out.

The Pioneer Craft House received the eviction notice from the city of South Salt Lake.

“There is no way to be out of here in three days,” said flute maker Fred Ochoa.

Ochoa is one of a number of artists that teaches a variety of skills at the school.

“We are providing a service to the community,” he said.

“I’m blown away. I don’t know how we will do it [in three days],” said Jan Harris Smith, who runs the jewelry making program and is also a board member on the Pioneer Craft House. “We have a lot of heavy equipment, a lot of specialized equipment that’s worth quite a bit.”

But there is another side to what appears to be a sad tale of eviction. 

For more than 10 years, there has been a contentious battle between the Pioneer Craft House and South Salt Lake, ever since the city took ownership of the property from Salt Lake County.

The city said the art school has paid only about one years’ worth of rent in all those years.

“They didn’t want to pay rent, but we don’t give away space to anybody, that’s not fair to tax payers,” said Sharen Hauri, director for the department of neighborhoods in the city. “They haven’t been a partner, and then they sued us.”

The city also said the art school has a much different vision of what to do there.

“We are wanting to put affordable, accessible-quality after school programs, and we never felt like Pioneer Craft House was doing that,” Hauri said. “Nobody wants to look like the bad guy that they have to move out, but if they are not providing art programs to your city and your city is paying for it, it doesn’t seem fair. So we are very happy to have this problem solved.”

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Longtime Art School Gets Eviction Notice In South Salt Lake