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Demolition Derby 

On The Street

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It doesn't take a hardcore urbanist to recognize the metamorphosis Salt Lake City is currently undergoing. The number of freshly constructed high-rises popping up around town is only matched by the number of demolition permits being issued. Old, nondescript buildings are generally the ones getting razed, but occasionally some with true historical value suffer the same fate.

I realize what constitutes "historic" is very much like the definition of "beauty," with them both being in the eye of the beholder. Oftentimes, just a casual familiarity with a building—whether it be knowing about its past or having a personal connection—is all it takes to want to protect it.

Case in point, the La France Apartments (above photo) that were located on 300 South between 200 and 300 West. Despite the somewhat neglected exterior, I found a lot of the row houses charming and the community vibrant the handful of times I visited. It was one of the places that I wish could have made it—but alas, it was not meant to be.

After a period of transition to abandonment, it was ultimately an unexpected fire that helped convert La France to rubble this past summer. By the way, this seems to be a recurring theme in our city: the former Carleton Hotel (140 E. South Temple) was completely torn down after it was accidentally set ablaze, whereas the Yardstick (40 E. 300 South) is still standing despite extensive fire damage on the southeast portion of the building.

Of course, not everything is worth the time or the cost to preserve it. Other than the concern about the future of the taco stands on the southeast corner of the lot, the former Sears Block (below photo) at State Street and 800 South has proceeded with a rather straight-forward, uncontroversial demolition.

I do wonder how the next generation will feel about all these newly constructed replacement buildings. Will they have any personal desire to try to eventually save those as well? Only time will tell.

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Bryant Heath

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