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Partially demolished building was destined to be a queer event space

Salt Lake City residents Craig Sorensen and Jacob Buck found themselves in a state of disbelief and dismay as they witnessed the partial demolition of the historic building located at 740 S. 300 West. The front addition of the cherished 114-year-old meetinghouse now lay in ruins, torn apart by an excavator on Easter Sunday.

For Sorensen and Buck, this building held more than just historical significance; it represented a location for their dream “Third Space SLC,” a queer-centric event space. They were hoping to use the historic granary district building.

Amid recent upheavals and shifts in leadership at the Utah Pride Center, the pair expressed concern that the LGBTQ community have felt a void in the city, longing for a haven they could call their own.

They say that months of negotiations with owner and developer Jordan Atkin had led to ambitious plans for transforming the space into a welcoming hub for the LGBTQ community, Black and Indigenous residents, and people of color.

“We had plans to meet with an architect this week, like literally yesterday, to go over plans and how we wanted to construct the building,” Buck told Fox 13 News. “We wanted to use kind of the essence of the building, the purpose of the building, when it was first created, it was a meeting house, so we want it to still have that flair of community members being able to host, promote and inform the community of what they’re doing.”

Their vision for a new gathering spot garnered support from investors and community members alike. They had meticulously conducted market research and engaged professionals to assess the feasibility of their project. Atkin himself had expressed enthusiasm for their plans during a recent meeting with the Granary District Alliance.

However, their hopes were shaken when they discovered the building being demolished without permits or public review. The city swiftly intervened, issuing violations against the property owner and halting further destruction. Mayor Erin Mendenhall condemned the unauthorized demolition, vowing to seek penalties against Atkin.

Atkin, who initially denied ownership of the building, later admitted to sending a crew to remove debris but claimed a “dramatic miscommunication” led to the demolition. Sorensen and Buck felt misled by Atkin’s actions, suspecting financial motives behind the destruction.

Despite the setback, the city’s requirement for restoration has reignited optimism among residents and preservationists. Sorensen and Buck remain determined to see their dream of a nurturing space inside the historic building come to fruition, even in the face of financial challenges.

“We believe and want to still fulfill our vision of ‘The 3rd Space,'” Sorensen wrote on Facebook. We hope the city council and the Granary District will help us make this happen. Also, the person responsible for this should rebuild it and receive the penalties for such a devastating move.”

Their plans, meticulously crafted to cater to diverse community needs, aim to provide a welcoming environment for all. They envision the restored building as a hub for various cultural and social events, serving as a symbol of inclusivity and acceptance.

While obstacles lie ahead, including substantial repairs and bureaucratic hurdles, Sorensen and Buck are committed to preserving the building’s heritage and creating a space where everyone feels valued and supported.

Sorensen says the community can help the effort by following @the3rdspaceslc on Instagram and reaching out with any ideas or “good folks” who can help their cause.

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