Babs DeLay

Babs DeLay

September 15, 2014

Prows and Wood

2014

This summer Utah lost a visionary who built massive affordable housing here. Back in 1953, a self-taught designer named Richard Prows partnered with a local homebuilder and constructed 300 homes in a small town named Bountiful, Utah. Prows bought that man out a few years later and teamed up with an ad-man named Bob Wood and the future for Salt Lake City homeowners was changed forever.

This new team put up homes in the 1960's in Kaysville, Tooele, Roy, Layton and Salt Lake. Prowswood (the newly formed development team) ventured into a fairly unheard of world in 1963...building condominiums. The first condos were built in Puerto Rico in 1958, but the first condos in the Continental U.S. were built in Utah. The Greystone Manor at 2730 So. 1200 East were the first built in our state thanks to some forward thinking developers and attorneys. They had to lobby the Utah Legislature to approve a 'housing cooperative' which was literally based on the ownership style used in ancient Rome where properties were called 'condominios'. Other developers around the country were beginning to build condo projects and the Fed's got involved in 1961 by allowing federally insured mortgages for this kind of housing. Bingo! You got loans? We got developers!

In 1963, Prowswood Corp. began developing Three Fountains condominiums in Murray. They were such a new concept that buyers and real estate agents didn't understand what you owned, how they were run, who paid for what, etc. I had that same problem trying to sell downtown loft spaces in the late 1990's so I can relate to the confusion of the buyer pool. Soon Prowswood started attracting the demographic we see today for condominiums: empty nesters, people too busy to want to do yards or maintenance, single women who like the security, and couples without kids. Prowswood also built Old Farm, Brookstone and so many more projects around the state from St. George to the north. The company literally spun out thousands of condos in their day. Now the daughter of Wood runs her own company and the manager of Prowswood became a developer himself and is responsible for most of the larger condo and apartment buildings here that have sprung up in the last decade or so.

Many of the original owners of Prowswood condos are still in their units. Others have passed or moved to assisted living. The construction has withstood 50+ years and the landscaping on all the projects has grown into luscious shady greens. New owners have updated their units over the years and enjoy amenities like swimming pools in the summer and snow removal in the winter months. Condo living isn't for everyone but as someone who has owned and lived in one for years I will take a moment to salute Richard Prows and his vision...because without him I wouldn't have a place to live! Less and less of them are being built in the Salt Lake Valley and more and more apartments are going up. We'll just have to wait and see what the future will be for a lock and leave lifestyle that Prowswood was so famous for in their day.

August 07, 2014

The McClelland Trail

2014

Happy holiday, happy summer. I'm so glad I'm not living in California where it hasn't rained in such a long time. History has proven that water is scarce, and valuable, and now with global warming it's going to be even a more precious commodity. The Daily Beast calls water 'the new oil' and the growing stories of corporations buying up water rights around the world are astounding. That favorite candy bar maker of yours (Nestle) is one of the biggest culprits of water hoarding and have stated that water is NOT a fundamental human right.

There's a brass plaque on the plaza at 300 South and State Street by the theaters "Commemorating the Beginning in America of Modern Irrigation that states "In this vicinity on July 23 and 24, 1847" Mormons made irrigation ditches and diverted the water from City Creek to water their crops. The words are a bit inaccurate because natives had used irrigation systems here and certainly other settlers round the country had coursed water to their benefit. If you Google a map of the Jordan River as it wanders to the Great Salt Lake and pull back a bit on the map, you can see man-made lines leading to the Jordan River. These mostly straight lines are old hand dug ditches from farmers and land owners of long ago. As the new city of salt expanded, canals and irrigation ditches spread like spider webs in the valley to moisten the hungry crops.

Turn the clock forward a century and you would be hard pressed to find one of these water ways. Most of them have been plowed over out of disuse while others have been diverted through giant concrete water pipes under county and city streets. Active canals are worth a lot of money and there are locals who trade water shares for big bucks. Now Salt Lake City has announced that one of the buried canals that wanders from the Brickyard to 800 South is going to become noticeable again after 132 years. Thanks to a push by City Council person Erin Mendenhall, a group of local citizens, plus $1 million from City coffers, an improved walking and biking trail is going to create a very wide path over a weedy forgotten lane between 1000 and 1200 east. The water will still run under it from the Jordan Narrows to City Creek, where it then meets that waterway at Eagle Gate and turns to the Jordan River. There is also a master plan from Salt Lake City to 'daylight' City Creek itself and let the waters flow at the surface again. A green watery path would run from downtown, past the Red Iguana 2, parallel the rail road tracks and then to the Jordan River again. It could potentially even be stocked with local trout and be a fresh water source again for birds and wildlife.

Years ago I sold a home that bordered the McClelland canal. The new homeowner was delighted to have a wild space next door to her. She planted vines and veggies and felt like the unused space was an expansion of her own yard. Indeed, many homeowners along the trail have encroached upon the dirt that doesn't belong to them. The City will come through and measure and decide what is what. But homeowners along this new bike and pedestrian route should rejoice because their property values may have just gone up with a great amenity on their property lines.

2014

I always wondered when we hosted the 2002 Olympics why Mayor Rocky Anderson and Governor Mike Leavitt didn't find the money and the priority to cleanup and beautify the 'Gateway to the Capitol City' from the airport to North Temple. At the time it was a street with dive motels, fast food and many unkempt properties that basically just made this thoroughfare into Salt Lake City look just plain crappy to our worldwide visitors. Wingpointe Golf course had been open at the airport since 1990 but was of no use for competitions in the sub-zero weather inversion we had during the games. The airport had been spiffed up and TSA secured, as the 9/11 attacks had happened in the U.S. only four months before the Olympic torch was lit in Utah. We didn't have much snow then and I felt like we were greeting the world wearing flood pants, rope belts and sporting a few missing teeth and it was as if we had bathed but forgot to wash our feet.

Much has happened since then to our fair city, and actually to the entire tri-city area of Ogden, Salt Lake and Provo. TRAX which had opened for the games has expanded to and from the airport and along the valley floors. Artsy little metro stations dot the tracks at major TRAX intersections, a giant 18-field soccer complex voted in by Salt Laker's in 2003 on 1900 West and 2200 North will be finished next year and now the City and local groups are pondering what to do to finally make North Temple look better and act better. Ponder this: could North Temple ever be a destination point for you other than the occasional stop at the original Red Iguana? This is a necessary discussion because the airport itself is now about to methodically go under the bulldozers between now and 2022. In just 8 years the two terminals will become one, the number of gates will be reduced all (but all will be replaced with 'Jetways' (covered walks) to and from planes), with massive shopping, dining and meeting spaces added on both sides of security. There are 20 million passengers currently coming into our 50 year old airport which was designed to handle only 10 million visitors.

Sadly, Wingpointe is not a money maker. The $5 rent the Feds were once charging us for the land has been increased and the lease to Salt Lake City is up in 2017. If I were to look in my crystal ball I'd say that golf at Wingpointe will not be around in a few years and it will become more of a green space and animal habitat than underused links. On the happy side, when you build light rail in cities around the world development usually follows. Planners from Salt Lake City know this and have fast-tracked ideas and zoning proposals to help developers bring in more mixed land uses between the airport and downtown. Non-profit NeighborWorks is interested in getting affordable housing along the North Temple corridor and interviewing community members about their ideas for the area. The transitory daily rentals of hotels does not for a neighborhood make and yet many people consider the area along both sides of North Temple a swell place to call home. The streets around the decrepit State Fairgrounds in the Fairpark neighborhood are wide and the homes affordable. The Euclid neighborhood is a mix of small businesses and historic old homes. People are working to get a better sense of place now between the east and the west of the airport and downtown as well as to the north and south - finally!

July 01, 2014

Malls and Malls

2014

There has been so much hoopla in the past few years over the opening of City Creek mall that we may forget that there are many other malls in this state of Zion. The first 'enclosed' shopping mall ever built was Cottonwood Mall in Holladay in 1962, with its anchor stores at opposite ends- ZCMI and J.C. Penny. Just before the Crash of 2008, General Growth Properties tore down the mall and left Macy's standing all by itself. Oops, the GGP then filed bankruptcy itself in 2009 and was split into two companies by the courts. The current owners are the Howard Hughes Corp.

Valley Fair Mall in West Valley opened in 1970 as large new home subdivisions started popping up on the old farmlands out there. Fashion Place was built in 1972. University Mall in Orem followed the trend and opened in 1973 and then got later competition with the Provo Town Center. If you travel around the state you will find the Layton Hills Mall, The Newgate in Ogden, South Town in Salt Lake, the Tanger Outlet in Park City, the Outlets at Zion in St. George and in Lehi, University Mall in Orem, Gateway Mall in downtown and for lack of a better description, the 'theme malls' like Gardner Village and Trolley Square.
Shoppers love a good Mall. I am not a shopper/gatherer. I'm a hunter. That means I do not like to go into a department store and walk up and down the aisles touching the rounders of clothes gathering ideas. If I need a new pair of pants, I know who sells them, what size I wear and what color I need. I want to park reasonably close, run in, purchase and leave. Wandering aimlessly in crowds in and out of stores is not good therapy for me.

The Cottonwood Mall 'hole' of 54 acres weeds and rocks feels like a sad tale of boom and bust, but don't feel badly for the big money boys. Right now the Howard Hughes Corp. is working with Ivory Homes to design a high end housing development within a mixed use of new stores around the Macy's island in the Holladay dirt. Although no timeline has been announced for ground breaking you can be assured that one of the largest mixed use shopping and housing projects in the Salt Lake Valley since the City Creek Mall will be announced within the year.

In mall news, props to Gateway this past weekend for having a hugely successful sidewalk Chalk Fest for the Foster kids program here in the state combined with a KSL book giveaway for kids. The media giant gave out 20,000 books in just one day. Also, do NOT miss the world of the Broadway Musical WICKED on the sky bridge at City Creek. The costumes and a display of 'Behind the Emerald Curtain' are on display in the sky over Main Street through June 28th. And the bridge itself is lit up green at night while the display is up.

July 01, 2014

The First Picnic

2014

Happy holiday everyone! I heard on the news that 41,000,000 Americans will hit the road this weekend to seek out fun, family and photos. That's @13% of our population out and about. The rest of us I guess will do a staycation or work, right? Picnics with friends, going to a Bee's game, watching fireworks and most likely eating something off a grill. The big show for pyrotechnic fans is BYU's "Stadium of Fire" in Provo at Cougar stadium and in the capitol city it's Sugar House Park.

If you are planning to see the Sugar House show you might drive by a little tiny city park on the corner of 1700 South and 500 East. It's not a piece of grass where you could throw a Frisbee but a park mostly comprised of big granite boulders. This is the First Encampment Park and is where a group of Utah Pioneers - 109 men, 3 women and 8 children camped on July 22, 1847. It's hard when you drive by this piece of ground to visualize this big group camping there because everything around has been long developed. The park is surrounded by typical streets lined with Victorian, WWI and WWII housing, bus stops, an auto garage/mechanic and an Arctic Circle and 7-11. Yet Parley's Creek runs under the streets in the neighborhood and that's probably why the pioneers decided to camp there so long ago.

The boulders in the park have the names of the original folk who camped there etched into them and to me it feels a bit like gravestones. There are no people buried there though. The rocks have been placed carefully and represent our mountains and the creeks and pathways that come out of our hills. A clerk to Joseph Smith and Brigham Young was one of the campers there and wrote in his journal: "We descended a gentle sloping table land to a lower level where the soil and grass improved in appearance...The wheat grass grows six or seven feet high, many different kinds of grass appear, some being 10 or 12 feet high-after wading through thick grass for some distance, we found a place bare enough for a camping ground, the brass being only knee deep, but very thick; we camped on the banks of a beautiful little stream."

The group moved on to downtown where City Creek waters were clear and sweet and thus downtown Salt Lake City grew around the ready and available water. We grew so much from those pioneer days that City Creek was also put underground so streets could be built. The 'creek' in City Creek Mall is fake and the only evidence of the creek is actually up the canyon of the same name. This urban pocket park was dedicated in 1997. Check it out sometime when you're jogging or biking by this historic site.

July 01, 2014

Ice in the Summer

2014

Okay, wow. Someone reminded me the other day that there used to be an indoor ice rink in Sugar House. My brain activated a very clear image of me and my friend Mike going to Hygeia Iceland one night during college. It was located right across from the Irving School apartments on 2100 South in Salt Lake City. I do not and did not then ice skate. I believe we were drunk as skunks and just slid out on our tennis shoes to cause havoc during a fundraiser for the Westminster football team. But I digress. Summer's about here, so who's thinking about ice skating? Many folks love the ice because they grew up playing hockey and the Super Bowl of hockey, the Stanley Cup final, begins this week. All puck fans will have their Kings or Rangers bets on. Utah has a team but it's a minor one (The ECHL), like the Salt Lake Bees are in stature to the New York Yankees. Sadly, out of the original 26 teams only 10 are left. Minor league hockey hasn't been faring as well as the big leagues.

From what I have discovered, Utah's first high school hockey team was established and played at Hygeia Iceland in 1969. They were sponsored by the now defunct (and politically incorrect) Sambos Restaurant. There was a smaller rink up in Ogden around the same time known as the 'Cow Palace' which had a half sized rink and produced many amateur teams . In the early '60's the Deseret News reported that youth programs were skating at both the old Salt Palace and at Hygeia Iceland. The Salt Lake Eagles team played in Sugar House and traveled to rinks in the Intermountain West and Alberta Canada in 1960-61 . And the State archives have photos of people skating at Liberty Park in 1917, which makes sense as many Utahns emigrated from Scandinavian countries where skating was the norm.

Where can you ice skate or play hockey here? The most famous rink is of course the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns. The University of Utah has a rink at the sports complex on Guardsman Way with Saturday theme nights with music and a disco ball for only $4.00 and a $2.00 skate rental. West Valley has the Acord Ice Center and South Davis has a rink for public skating as well. When it gets hot this summer it's cool and cheap to glide along the ice indoors. Even better, there are summer hockey leagues to get your game.

My favorite trivia about ice skating in Utah is: 1) Frank Zamboni was born in Eureka, Utah. He invented a machine that goes along the ice surface to shave it, smooth it and adds a fresh sheen of thin water to make more ice as it passes; 2) my agent Ben skated as 'Woody' for Disney on Ice around the world; 3) 2002 Olympic skater Michelle Kwan lived at American Towers condominiums during the games; 4) Dorothy Hamill, who won gold for the USA in Olympic skating in 1976 was the woman who ran the Olympic torch from the parking lot into the U of U stadium during the opening Ceremonies of 2002. Speed skater Eric Heiden refused to come to the 2002 games here because he wasn't chosen to light the Olympic torch. What a putz. The 1980 gold-medal U.S. Hockey team got that honor.

GO RANGERS!

2014

Imagine that you wanted to buy a small commercial space with your partner. The two of you have come up with the newest thing every hipster needs and you have to start manufacturing it NOW. You don't have all the cash to just buy the place outright and must go to a bank and get a small loan. Imagine being turned down for that loan because your partner is of your same sex. Or, what if you were two enterprising, married, homosexual men who wanted to buy a home together and get a mortgage in both names? Up until 1974 it was totally legal to deny credit in the good ol' USA to people because of their sex, age, race, color, religion, national origin, or marital status.

Forty years ago this year the Equal Credit Opportunity Act was passed. This was during a time our country was changing faster than the truth out of a politician's mouth in an election year. I know I couldn't get a credit card in college until my junior year, simply because I was a woman (and an unmarried one at that!). Even when I got my real estate license in 1984 I experienced lenders who would not work with same sex couples to put together home loans for them to buy houses and condos. Lenders got out of this legal loophole by initially proclaiming "Gays/LGBT people are not a protected class and the 1974 law does not protect homos."

It would be very odd nowadays for a bank or mortgage company to deny a loans to people because they were from the LGBT community. Why? My humble opinion boils down to this: 1) banks are greedy; 2) many lenders work for companies that have valid anti-discrimination policies in place, and that to deny a loan to an LGBT person/couple would be against corporate policy; and 3) some lenders knew from the beginning what was right and what was wrong and gladly gave loans out to anyone with good credit and employment history.

The Human Right's Campaign reported on their website: "On January 24, 2011, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published a proposed rule that would require grantees and participants of HUD programs to comply with local and state non-discrimination laws that include sexual orientation and gender identity. The public comment period on this rule has concluded and a core rule implemented the changes. They added that "Family is defined as one or more eligible persons living with another person or persons, regardless of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status, who are determined to be important to the eligible person or person's care or well-being." The key here though is what ARE the non-discrimination laws in Utah protecting the LGBT community? We still have not seen a successful vote in the Utah State Legislature protecting all people, including LGBT people from discrimination in housing. Happy Pride everyone.

May 30, 2014

Zonal Gardening

2014

If you've recently moved to Utah and have a bit of dirt available to grow things this summer, it's getting time to plant! If you lived here a while you do know what grows and what doesn't grow well. Putting in a garden area, improving landscaping is one of the easy ways to create value and gain equity in a home that you own. The challenge is you've got to figure out what to plant. Each state in the USA is in a different zonal gardening region, and once you look this up on the internet you'll see what vegetables, herbs, flowers, shrubs and trees do best in Utah. The Zonal Gardening system explains why you don't see palm trees growing outside in Big Cottonwood Canyon. Moab has a different climate than Logan just as Delta's is different from Salt Lake City.

When it comes to fruit and vegetable farmers we've got major state pride. Green River, Utah is where some of the best melons in the world are grown. The desert climate of hot days and cool nights helps the watermelons and cantaloupes store sugar and make them sweet as candy. If you're from north of the Capitol City then you know we've got terrific giant black sweet cherries and soft ball sized peaches. I was grinding my teeth the other day after one of our local grocers was interviewed on the news about the California drought, and he commented "I don't know where I'll be able to get my melons anymore." And this from the mouth of a guy who promotes locally grown produce!

Whether it's the mindset of a new generation or a reaction to the Crash of 2008, more and more people are getting their fingers dirty and growing things. My wife and I live in a condo and we plant in about 30 pots. We've experimented with our unique deck 'zone' and have been able to get a head start and trick Mother Nature to get fresh tomatoes by Memorial Day. I think many folks love the fact that it's easy to grow tomatoes, peppers, cilantro and zucchini in the back yard or in pots with not having to own a tractor and irrigation system. There are a multitude of community gardens where folk without dirt can come and plant in their neighborhood. Wasatchgardens.org exists to build community by providing the space to garden and the expertise if you don't know how to do it. And slco.org/urbanfarming/communitygardens/garden map will show you where there are gardens in the County.

The Winter Market of the Downtown Alliance is now closed but the Summer Market begins on June 14th. The 'People's Market', now called the '9th West Farmers Market' opens on Mother's Day at Jordan Park on 1000 South and 900 West. Those who don't garden can find early produce there. Statewide there are more and more markets popping up and you can find them listed at utahsown.utah.gov/farmersmarkets. For Zonal gardening and what to plant where and when go to garden.org or stop into one of our many local garden stores and ask the experts.

May 02, 2014

Comic Con

2014

I just got to spend time with 100,000 of my closest friends at Comic Con: The FanXperience this past weekend at the Salt Palace Convention Center. Holy spandex, Batgirl! That was like Burning Man meets Nerds in Space. I was asked to be on a panel on sexism and objectification in Cosplay and then afterward I got to consensually hug and drool over Elvira in the flesh. As I walked away from the crowd in a self-induced cloud I saw a sign hanging high in the vending area with the word "Evermore". What is it you ask? It's a Harry Potter meets Jack the Ripper-smelling Victorian 'adventure park' that is to open next year in Pleasant Grove, Utah. Poor ol' Lagoon ain't gonna know what hit it when this "First Adventure Park in the World" opens.

Lagoon, the 27th oldest amusement park in the U.S.ofA operating in the same location was not our first playland, but it was the first park west of the Mississippi River. It first opened in 1886 and was one of three amusement parks that operated on the shores of the Great Salt Lake. Today it is located in downtown Farmington, Utah and open on Saturdays and Sundays and weekly during the summer season. The rides weren't electric powered like they are today - think Jet Star and the Wild Mouse, Wicked and Flying Aces. The fun back then came in the form of row boats, dancing, music and food and the first 'ride' was a sled down a hill into the lagoon pond. The first Fun house at Lagoon opened in 1929 and OMG there was betting and legal horse racing there until the State Legislature but a stop to that bunch of sin!

As a side bar, Utah is famous for its mega roller coast designs. Arrow Dynamics in Clearfield, Utah designed the Matterhorn Bobsled at Disneyland, the Corkscrew at Knott's Berry Farm, the Haunted Mansion and X at Six Flags Magic Mountain. Lagoon has one of their coasters but doesn't have the space or money to put in a giant one on its property.

Evermore is not selling itself on rides, roller coasters and rowdy fun. Their website is touting the Victorian mysteryland as an attraction open all year round featuring themed events like a Carnival of Wonders, a Rippers Cove and Christmas/Halloween seasonal events. The park with have a dozen retail shops, three high end restaurants, a three acre lake, a two acre town square with a performance stage, elaborate gardens and a huge cast of professional performers. Professional makeup artists and costumers from amusement parks and haunted houses will be making the people and the 40 acre place period believable. Will it attract visitors? The founder of Evermore is the same man who's banking that non-drinkers in Utah will pay $15 a piece for virgin cocktails at his high end club he's building on 400 South and West Temple in Salt Lake City.

A news item I saw on television the other night stated that some dance clubs in Las Vegas are taking in more than the casino's attached to them these days. Amusement parks like Lagoon are just as popular as they were a century ago. I think we have more Halloween horror houses than anywhere else in the country raking in millions. We'll all look forward to some great escape, even if it is in beautiful downtown Pleasant Grove, Utah.

2014

The East High Alumni Association likes to say, "One cannot travel anywhere in Utah and not meet someone who went to, or had a relative who went to, or knows someone who graduated from East High." That's probably a very true statement since the school is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. West High School in Salt Lake City is the oldest public school in Utah but its arch rival, East High, used to be the same school and they were formerly known as East Side High and West Side High. East's school colors were red and black and West's were black and red. They had one school newspaper and just one yearbook between them.

Utah in general has a unique education history. My alma mater, Wasatch Academy in Mt. Pleasant was established in 1875. Rowland Hall is the oldest co-ed college prep school in the state as it opened its doors in 1867. In southern Utah the first school opened at Fort Cameron, near Beaver back in 1883. After the state began being populated in the 1950's most schools were located in church meeting houses. Services were held on Sundays in Stakes and Wards and then the doors would open the rest of the week for classes offered to local school children. That makes complete sense since church buildings were generally the largest and most well built structures in our early history. The Utah Historical Encyclopedia states that from 1867-1900 there were 100 private schools in Utah created by Presbyterians, Methodists and Congregationalists to "Christianize" Utah Mormon children. In 1933 the LDS Church turned over its secondary schools statewide over to the State of Utah.

I remember East High on the corner of 1300 East and 800 South. It burned mightily in 1972, gutting the historic building. That was two years after Saltair burned to the ground and unfounded rumors were rampant at the time that a major arsonist was on the loose. Both properties were eventually rebuilt and East High became even more famous thanks to several Disney Channel films (High School Musical, 1, 2 and 3) were filmed in part there. For locals you may have heard of the following people who attended East High: Roseanne Barr (dropout, age 17); James Irwin (astronaut who walked on the moon); folksinger, story teller, labor organizer Utah Phillips; Ken Sansom (voice of Rabbit in Disney's Winnie the Pooh); Pulitzer Prize winner Wallace Stegner; and a multitude of athletic-types like Sione Pouha (defensive tackle for the New York Jets), Herman Franks (major league baseball manager and Will Tukuafu from the San Francisco 49ers.

Sadly, East High school has received bad press over the years. In 2007, three members of the football team were arrested and expelled after raping fellow football players. In 2012 a soccer team player assaulted someone during a soccer match that was in such poor tastes it appears as an example of bad sportsmanship on YouTube. The first gay-straight alliance club at a school in our State debuted at East High in 1995. That was a good thing for human rights but student Kelli Peterson who created the group was not welcomed with open arms in the conservative atmosphere at the time.

You are welcome to tour East High school any day as a visitor or alum. At the peak of the High School Musical phenomenon they were getting requests at least 50 times a day by folks who wanted to see where the movies were shot.