Hopes are (Real) high for a new Sugar House Boys & Girls Club
Dec 04, 2019 10h45
By Spencer Belnap
Architects from Method Studio show off their work on a possible new Boys & Girls Club and tennis courts for Sugar House. (Photo by Laura Dearden/ RSL Foundation)
By Spencer W. Belnap | [email protected]
The corner of 900 East and Sugarmont Drive (2225 South) has been in disrepair for decades. The Boys & Girls Club of Salt Lake and adjacent Fairmont Park tennis courts that occupy this pocket of Sugar House have been there since the late 1960s. The area around the community building, like much of the neighborhood, has seen exponential growth with S-Line TRAX service and new apartments built in the past decade. It has been the wish of residents and community leaders for some time to upgrade this piece of Sugar House as well.
This past summer, the city sent out an online survey to Sugar House residents, asking them what they’d like to see happen to this area. A community garden, a better and expanded Boys & Girls Club, and more outdoor public space were the key components most wanted to see happen. The majority made it clear they do not want any more housing or increased traffic right there.
In November, an exciting new possibility for the area was announced. Real Salt Lake wants to give Sugar House an amazing gift. The professional soccer team and its charitable organization, RSL Foundation, want to completely rebuild the existing building and surrounding parking lot and those eyesore tennis courts. The organization and Salt Lake City mayor’s office and city council have been talking about the idea for a while now. They originally intended to just rebuild the tennis courts, but realized that the community wants more. In November, they finally shared the exciting proposal to the public.
“This is a gift,” RSL Foundation Executive Director Mary VanMinde said at the Sugar House Community Council meeting on Nov. 6. “We are Real Salt Lake, not Real Sandy or Real Herriman. Nick Rimando, who is retired now, has a son that attends this Boys & Girls Club. I have children that went there. We want to give back to the community.”
The idea is to build a brand new Boys & Girls Club facility before tearing down the existing one. This building would be roughly 27,000 square feet in size. In comparison, the current club is roughly 18,000 square feet. No children would be displaced or relocated to other clubs in the city as they wouldn’t close the current one until the new one is fully complete. The parking lot would be reconfigured and redone to allow for upwards of 300 spaces, with additional stalls that would go underground. There would be a few indoor pavilions for the likes of soccer and basketball, as well as outdoor tennis courts. Smaller classrooms and a bigger event space are also in the plans, with the ability for outside groups and organizations to rent the space. New sidewalk paths and bike lanes are planned as well.
The proposal is in the early and preliminary phases of the process. Local architecture and design firm, Method Studio, have been working on the planning and designing elements. They’ve drawn up robust plans for a state-of-the-art facility, and nice pathways and immediate connections to Fairmont Park that don’t exist now. The firm has done similar recreational projects throughout the valley, as well as recent upgrades to the Utah State University Athletics Department in Logan.
In addition to announcing and showing off plans at the community council meeting, RSL Foundation also held an open house on Nov. 13 at the Boys & Girls Club. Current and former staff members, parents, and children were excited to see the new design and their possible future place of work and play.
“This is so awesome,” Darlene Dixon said at the open house. She is the former director of the Sugar House Boys & Girls Club, and is now over the club in Tooele. “I love how visually beautiful it is. So happy for the families.”
RSL Foundation will continue to work closely with the city and mayor’s office for ultimate approval and construction timelines. The organization needs financial assistance with the parking lot, but everyone involved is confident the funds will be found and allocated next year.
“First thing is we need a new Boys & Girls Club. We think we could maybe get shovels in the ground in June, if everything goes well,” VanMinde said. “And that’s about a year build. So in 2021, they’d move into there, and the city would then tear down the old one and begin working on everything else.”
Pictures of some of the design plans can be found at sugarhousecouncil.org. Once the plan is approved, RSL Foundation hopes to throw a big party with RSL players for the community.