Preservation Committee okays demolition of Thatcher Mill ruins

The historic ruins of the Thatcher Mill are a step closer to demolition following a ruling by the Historic Preservation Committee on Monday.

LOGAN – In the high stakes game of downtown redevelopment, the cards keep falling in favor of Logan Mayor Holly Daines.

On Monday, members of the Historic Preservation Committee (HPC) voted unanimously to approve the demolition of the historic Thatcher Mill ruins to make way for an extension of a residential housing complex already under construction at 100 South and 100 West Streets.

The proposed second phase of the Millcreek project is an additional five-story, 72-unit residential development. As explained by Paul Willie of Mountain States Property Management at a September 2020 meeting of the HPC, that extension of the residential complex would occupy most of the vacant southern side of 100 South St., including what remains of the Cache Valley’s oldest commercial mill.

All that remains of the mill today is an el-shaped portion of its foundation that is now crumbling and covered in crude graffiti, according to Willie.

After attempts to propose a way to preserve the ruin by incorporating them into the Phase 2 design were rejected by the HPC in November of 2020, Willie said Monday that corporate engineers and city officials concluded that none of the more recent ideas were “functional, feasible or economically sound.”

Daines agreed with that view, suggesting that the cost of such preservation efforts could exceed $500,000 and that the city has better uses for its redevelopment funds.

Instead, Mountain States Property Management now plans to commemorate the history of the Thatcher Mill and Elevator Company with an interpretative plaza to be constructed along 100 South St near the former site of the mill ruins.

Other facets of the second phase of the residential complex will include rerouting the canal along 100 South to its original pathway in the Logan River; a trailway on 100 South; and, a decorative, non-consumptive water feature within the grounds of the residential complex.

Phase 2 of the residential complex is planned to offer a mix of 72 studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments. Exterior design features will include historic windows, lintels, balconies and frieze features.

During the public comment portion of the HPC meeting, most concerns focused on issues arising from the proposed canal realignment and water rights. While city community development director Mike DeSimone stressed that the purview of the HPC does not extend to issues of water rights, the committee’s members okayed the demolition of the historic mill with the pre-condition that involved canal companies approve the proposed changes to the waterway.

The Thatcher Mill was originally constructed in 1860 as a saw-mill and was later transformed into a grist mill. With the addition of a grain elevator by Logan entrepreneurs G.W. and Moses Thatcher in 1886, the Thatcher flour mill was the largest in Utah and Idaho. The mill continued to operate until the Great Depression in the 1930s and finally burned to the ground in 1946.

The Millcreek residential development is the southern anchor of a revitalized downtown envisioned by Daines stretching from 100 South to 400 North on the west side of Main Street.

The elements of that redevelopment effort are the Millcreek housing project to the south, the recently approved city plaza replacing the Emporium on the city’s Center Block, a new library on the corner of 300 North and a possible commercial mixed-use development across that thoroughfare.

Another residential development is also in progress across Main St. along 100 East Street.

City officials say the addition of residential housing on 100 South contributes to Logan’s community development goals by growing the city’s property tax base, increasing population in the downtown area and encouraging additional redevelopment projects.

Final plans for Phase 2 of the Millcreek Residential Complex sill have to be approved by the City Planning Commission.

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