LOGAN – “I’m pleading with you, don’t let the Emporium be torn down until we at least get a chance to talk,” downtown business owner, Eugene Needham III stated Tuesday night at the Logan Municipal Council meeting.
Needham approached council members during a public hearing which was about appropriating additional funds needed to complete the Emporium demolition, scheduled for completion in the spring. The former city council member and owner of Logan Fine Art Gallery (located on the same block as the Emporium) was armed with a petition and the names of 21 downtown business and property owners stating their objection to the demolition and plans for what has been proposed to replace it.
(We) “want it delayed or don’t want the Emporium torn down,” Needham expressed a number of times. “We ask the council to delay the destruction of that building for three to four months…so that we have time to develop the plans that we have.”
The plan the city is considering, and Needham objects to, was unveiled during a public meeting in September and has yet to be finalized. It includes a 136 unit apartment building, a three story parking structure, retail and business space along with a public plaza.
The plaza, which will be operated and run by the city, will include a splash pad for summer activities and an ice rink for the winter. There will also be an area in the plaza to accommodate special performances and programs throughout the year.
“We certainly don’t need an ice skating pond, not right in the middle of our retail,” said Needham. “There’s no reason for that. What we need are better tenants, better merchants.”
“Anyone that is is involved in retail knows that retail has changed so dramatically over the last few years,” said Mayor Holly Daines. “Retail arrives in a box at your porch for the most part. Downtowns are changing…we’re just trying to adapt and help transition our downtown into the next 50 years.”
“The Merchants have another vision,” according to Needham. “Instead of destroying the Emporium and Plaza 45, it would be better to take the buildings down on (100 North) on the south side of the street. That would allow for the apartments to go in on top of an area that would not disturb our parking so we won’t need to have that high rise parking terrace.”
Needham also expressed frustration that he and other business owners were kept out of the loop when it came time to come up with a plan for the Emporium.
Not so, said Daines.
“We’ve been talking about this for two years,” she said. “There were opportunities, there were public meetings and in this case we’re not even to a finished product. Our goal is to get the project to be something that most owners says ‘yes that’s a good idea’. I don’t think I’ll ever get 100 percent, but we are working with the owners to address concerns.”
Daines said that developer Dan Lofgren has made changes to the initial concept for the project specifically after listening to suggestions from business owners. She said he has addressed a number of concerns and continues to meet with architects to tweek the plans.
Daines is encouraging everyone to view the revised plans when they are finished sometime next week.
If there is some consensus, those plans will be presented to the Historical Preservation Committee on November 18th. Before demolition on the Emporium can happen, the HPC will need to give the city it’s blessing.
“We have made the plans better and we’re continuing to improve it,” said Daines.