Iconic buildings at center of dispute in Murray

MURRAY, Utah – It’s old and run down with a wrecking ball in its future, but some locals want to save what they say is a Murray icon.

On the 100 block of Vine Street off State Street in Murray, there’s the old city library, a former church built in 1907, and several apartments.

It’s all up for sale, and everything but the library is up for replacement.

Mount Vernon Academy wants to move out of the 110-year-old former church they’ve called home for four decades so they can get into a newer, nicer facility.

The plan is for Mount Vernon Academy and other owners on the block to sell their buildings to developer Dakota Pacific, who would tear down the old buildings and put up a 120-room assisted living facility.

That’s a plan the Preserve Murray group does not like.

“These are probably the most iconic historical landmarks we have left in downtown Murray,” said Janice Strobell of Preserve Murray.

While city leaders may appreciate the history, in 2011 the Murray City Council loosened restrictions for the owners of older buildings.

“They wanted options to, if there was a good project that met goals and objectives that the city wanted to see, to see those projects move forward,” said Jim Brass of the Murray City Council.

And the city says the proposal met the new guidelines, showing it would take too much to re-do the old buildings.

“It’s an agreement between the developer and property owner, and the city could be held liable… if we acted to stop this,” said Tim Tingey, Murray City manager.

But Strobell thinks it can be saved.

“We’d like to look at options,” she said. “We want the opportunity to keep this a place of heritage for our community, and not destroy our history.”

The city says it would take $5.2 million to turn the old buildings into an updated, ADA compliant facility. Strobell says another architect thinks the cost would only be about half that.

One person filed an appeal of the city's decision, which is scheduled to be heard July 26.