Travel Inn owner explains demolition delays: Ephraim wants more prompt action
EPHRAIM —The owner of the dilapidated Travel Inn on Main Street in Ephraim told the Ephraim City Council last week that if it were up to him, the building would have been demolished “yesterday.”
But Branden Kirk, who lives in Utah County, said he is facing challenges in getting investors to commit to his plan to build apartments for young couples, especially since he doesn’t have a plan approved by the city yet.
“The margin [for businesses in Ephraim] is thin,” Kirk said.
At a work meeting before the regular city council meeting on Wednesday, March 15, the council reminded Kirk that City Manager Brant Hanson had told them the building would be gone during the first quarter of 2017.
“I’m hearing from constituents almost every day, asking when something’s going to be done about it,” Councilman John Scott said.
Scott asked if there was a timeline for condemnation of the building. Kirk answered that he would like to pursue a development agreement with the city where his company, Amp Development, would obtain plat approval from the city and then would set a timeline for tearing down the building and building new structures.
Bryan Kimball, city development director, said plat approval usually takes six to eight weeks. Kirk again cited his investors as a limiting factor in being able to say exactly when he could begin demolition.
“To tear it down without knowing what would be approved—the cost would be prohibitive,” Kirk said.
Kirk asked the council if the city could contribute equipment to the demolition. The city council was vocal in supporting the idea, especially if it could speed up the demolition of the building.
Kirk said his plan would not be aimed specifically at student housing but targeted more toward “young couples.” The apartments would be one and two bedroom configurations, and the buildings would probably be two stories, he said.
Kirk said he would need to get approval for the plan from the city before getting official drawings and engineering done.
At the end of the meeting, Scott again asked whether, if the city assisted with the demolition, the building be could be knocked down by the end of March. Scott also suggested that the property be fenced off from the public.
Kirk promised he would review his plans to see if Scott’s requests would be possible. Kirk also noted that demolition would depend on getting permits from the city regarding air quality because the ceiling tiles in the hotel were made with asbestos and removal could require hazardous-materials procedures.
The council promised to work with him and urged speed. Councilwoman Marge Anderson said the council had been willing to work with him so far because of promises to demolish the building before the end of March, but that if the demolition dragged on without resolution “it would not be pretty.”