Buildings’ demolition clears way for Larry H. Miller dealership parking lots

September 22, 2018

More than two full city blocks in the city core are being remade for the creation of parking lots for a large downtown auto dealership, according to permits issued by the city.

The work follows the demolition of the few existing structures on the land, some of which were historic buildings tied to the city’s storied “auto row.” Currently, pavement on the lots has been pulled up and earthmovers are present.

The show and inventory lots for the Larry H. Miller auto campus line the south side of West Third Avenue and stretch between Monroe Street and just west of Jefferson Avenue. Seven parcels of property underlie the project’s footprint. The work is valued at $800,000, according to the permits.

Drawings of the work submitted to the city show the lots vacant of structures but surrounded by landscaping and 60 new trees. Existing driveways will be maintained.

Work on the large dealership campus has been in the making for years and has transformed over that time in response to contentious dealings with city officials.

In 2013, the Larry H. Miller company originally called for a much larger campus and permanent closure of multiple city streets. The plan for a six-block campus with tree-lined pedestrian boulevards in place of public streets was shrunk following pushback from some neighboring business owners and elected officials. A section of Madison was blocked by a Quonset hut-like structure for five years until the street reopened in July.

Two historic buildings eligible for protection, at 1023 and 1027 W. Third Ave., were demolished earlier this year to make way for the parking lots. To get permission from the city to remove the buildings, the auto dealer agreed to renovate the International Harvester Co. truck showroom, which was built in 1929 at 1030 W. Third Ave. and now serves as a Lexus showroom.

Such a compromise would no longer be allowed under city law, following the February passage of historic property preservation ordinance. Before that bill’s approval, developers could take down historic buildings if they renovated an adjoining historic building. Now, the city’s Historic Landmarks Commission can block the removal of an old building.

Miller Family Real Estate, based in Salt Lake City, is the project’s owner. No contractor is listed, but the architect is John Mahoney Architect, of Tempe, Arizona.

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