Sugar factory may enjoy a sweet new life

W. Jordan will see if an arts center is a viable option

Deseret News, 8 March 2004, page B1

Article Summary:

Sugar Factory

State founder Brigham Young ordered pioneers in 1852 to develop their own sugar supply.  Early attempts produced low-grade molasses.  A breakthrough came at a Lehi plant on 15 October 1891, when a new technique from Hawaii caused molasses to crystallize.  This success resulted in the Utah-Idaho Sugar Company.

West Jordan sugar factory facts:

  • open from 1916 to 1971
  • “was the heart of the region's economy, employing hundreds of people over the generations”
  • one of the largest operations in the Utah-Idaho Sugar Company
  • produced an estimated 11 million 100-pound bags of sugar
  • almost every family in West Jordan was involved with the factory or growing sugar beets
  • after closure, LDS Church used silos for grain storage
  • LDS Church sold factory to West Jordan City in mid-1980s
  • “factory itself is not an architectural wonder; its significance rests in its historical value”

Arts Complex

West Jordan citizens, concerned about plans to demolish the factory, passed an initiative in 2002 requiring a public vote on any commercial or private development in the area.  The Deseret News described it as “one of the most bitter political fights in the city's history.”

Inspired by Trolley Square, the West Jordan City Council approved $20,000 toward a $40,000 study on turning the sugar factory into an arts and entertainment center.  The factory is to be the center of a downtown revitalization project that includes a new police station, courts, a business district and park, all centered around the Mid-Jordan TRAX station.  The study will determine if the factory can be seismically upgraded. Two federal grants will pay the remaining $20,000.

"We are serious about making this a historic attraction for our citizens.  It will end up being one of the top fun, family-oriented entertainment and cultural offerings for those who come to the Salt Lake Valley."   (Rob Bennett, West Jordan City Councilman)