LOGAN – The members of the Historic Preservation Committee (HPC) have given Logan City’s revised plans for the Emporium and adjacent buildings on Main St. an unofficial thumbs up.
During discussion of the new proposal as a workshop item at the HPC meeting Tuesday, the plan to raze the Emporium to make room for a city plaza was praised as a significant improvement over the city’s previous plan.
“This is great,” said HPC member Thomas Graham, after presentations by Mayor Holly Daines and senior city planner Russ Holly. “This is much better than was what previously proposed.”
In fall of 2019, Daines outlined a controversial plan to demolish the Emporium building and adjacent structures to build residence housing and a parking terrace within the so-called Center Block area. The Center Block is bounded by Center St. on the south, Main St. on the east,100 North on the north and 100 West to the west.
That plan was opposed by some members of the local business community and was eventually blocked by an HPC ruling that precluded the demolition of the Emporium on historical grounds.
But now the HPC members have changed their tune.
“From a historic point of view, the Emporium is not worth saving,” HPC member and architect Christian Wilson said flatly.
Graham admitted to be “a little conflicted” about favoring a plan to demolish the local landmark, saying that he would have preferred to see a downtown redevelopment plan that preserved the now vacant retail/restaurant structure.
After Daines confirmed that the city had no plans to incorporate the Emporium into a revitalized area, Graham reluctantly accepted the now seemingly inevitable change to the Center Block’s landscape.
Once the Emporium at 67 N. Main St. is gone, Daines said, Logan will focus on “building a city plaza … to create a gathering place for performances, outdoor activities, interactive features, dining, public art and walking connections …”
Tentative plans discussed by Holly listed the plaza’s features as including an ice-skating rink, a stage, other entertainment facilities and restaurants.
In a significant change from the city’s original proposal, the city now plans to preserve current structures at 41 and 45 N. Main St. Those buildings will be remodeled for new uses, including a rooftop restaurant.
HPC member Keith Mott considered that change to be a major selling point of the new city plan.
“It’s better that we only lose one building, rather than three,” he emphasized.
Committee member Gary Olsen agreed that incorporating those building into the new plan was “a great option.”
Other HPC members Amy Hochberg, David Lewis and Bronwyn O’Hara were equally supportive.
No formal decision was made at the HPC meeting, however.
Daines said that city officials were simply seeking general feedback on their tentative plans to guide Logan’s next steps toward downtown revitalization.