BUSINESS + ECONOMY

One year after massive apartment complex fire, Sugar House businesses plead for support

Oct 26, 2023, 8:00 AM

sugar house apartment fire...

Crews battle a large fire at an apartment building under construction near 1040 East and 2220 South in Salt Lake City on Oct. 25, 2022.Jay Hancock, KSL-TV)

SALT LAKE CITY — One year to the day after a fire torched a massive apartment complex that was under construction, businesses said they were still feeling the toll and leaders were urging people to support the area during the upcoming holiday season.

Officials said the fire that began around 11 p.m. on Oct. 25, 2022, caused $59 million in damage.

Business leaders, however, said the weeks and months that followed were not kind to businesses either between fire damage, closures and unrelated road construction in the area of 2100 South and Highland Drive.

“It has been a real wild ride for businesses this year,” said Erika Wiggins, co-chair of the Sugar House Chamber. “Unfortunately we have lost a few businesses.”

Wiggins said the most recent was the defection of Pizza Volta, 1080 E. 2100 South, which had opened just weeks before the fire.

“That was what they opened to, that shut down all of the parking in this building, made it hard for anyone to get to them when they were new,” Wiggins said. “Then the construction came and sadly they just couldn’t weather that first year and closed just a few weeks ago.”

Wiggins said the reports the Chamber is receiving from businesses indicate that through construction gross receipts are down in the range of 28% to 35%.

At Kimi’s Chop & Oyster House, owner Kimi Eklund said the construction had dropped business at her restaurant by about 55%.

“So, I’m actually going to be moving to Holladay in January and February and that’s part of the reason,” Eklund told KSL TV. “The growth here in Sugar House—it’s good obviously—but for a small business owner like myself, there’s no way I’m going to be able to sustain it in the long run, especially when I need to focus on my retirement. So, these next 10 years are going to be repaying SBA (Small Business Administration) loans from COVID and trying to get back just what’s happened these last couple of years with all of the construction and fire and everything.”

New construction at the site of the fire is likely to continue for quite some time, Wiggins said, but she did note that temporary relief would be coming for businesses in time for the holiday season.

From Nov. 17 to after Jan. 1, road construction was supposed to temporarily cease in the area, she said.

Wiggins said it was vital for people to go out of their way to support Sugar House’s businesses.

“East-west, north-south — all of these businesses are feeling it,” Wiggins said. “You come down here to do business, you’re making a difference.”

Eklund echoed the sentiment and urged people to support restaurants and other businesses in the area.

“Come on, come on back!” Eklund said. “It’s terrible if you don’t, so we all need you.”

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One year after massive apartment complex fire, Sugar House businesses plead for support