POLITICS + GOVERNMENT

Art instructors evicted from Pioneer Craft House in South Salt Lake

May 12, 2021, 3:44 PM
(Pioneer Craft House in South Salt Lake.  Photo: Paul Nelson)...
(Pioneer Craft House in South Salt Lake. Photo: Paul Nelson)
(Pioneer Craft House in South Salt Lake. Photo: Paul Nelson)

SOUTH SALT LAKE– It has been a workspace and gathering place for artists and youth groups for decades. However, people inside the Pioneer Craft House in South Salt Lake say they’re being evicted.  This comes after years of court battles between the city and the center’s management. 

Workers and instructors inside the PCH say they were only given three days to pack up and move from the facility on 3300 South near 500 East. That can be a tall order for artisans like Fred Ochoa. He teaches Native American style flute making, and his workspace is filled with lumber, tools and heavy equipment like lathes.

(Woodworker Jorgen Olsen working on a lathe making a Native American style flute at the Pioneer Craft House. Photo: Paul Nelson)

“If you look around and look at all the equipment and everything, there’s no way everything out of here in three days,” he said.

Ochoa is not on the center’s board of directors, but he believes the lease between management and the city is not as clear as South Salt Lake officials are claiming.  He also believes the city has wanted to keep the facility for itself ever since it took control in 2008.

“It has been this bad since the city took over. For the last ten years, they’ve been trying to get us out of here,” he said.

However, city leaders say the management has been extremely inconsistent in paying rent. Department Of Neighborhoods Interim Director Sharen Hauri said the management team signed a new lease with them in 2013, but the center never really kept its side of the deal.

“The first year we had a lease with them that charged them rent, which was a pretty modest rent, at that, they paid for about a year ten filed a lawsuit against us,” said Hauri. “Then, they stopped paying.”

She said the city has tried to renegotiate a deal that would satisfy both them and the center, but nothing has come to pass.

“Over many years, there were a lot of different struggles with this. At one point, it ended up in a lawsuit for a number of years,” according to Hauri.

Workers say there are thousands of dollars worth of art equipment inside the center. Hauri said they know which property is theirs and which belongs to the center, and they’ll work in good faith to ensure teachers retrieve what they need.

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Art instructors evicted from Pioneer Craft House in South Salt Lake