What’s next for the old Sizzler site near Sugar House Park? Here’s what we know.

The vacant eatery could soon face the wrecking ball, but the future of the site remains unclear.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) The former Sizzler restaurant that has stood empty for years on the northwest corner of Sugar House Park in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024.

The high-traffic corner near Sugar House Park that drew community attention last year over nixed plans for a Kum & Go gas station remains in play for development.

A Malad City, Idaho, company applied in November on behalf of the property’s owner to demolish the former Sizzler restaurant that has stood empty for years on the northwest corner of the park at 2111 S. 1300 East.

Records show the permit is nearing approval. Fencing has gone up around the 0.82-acre property and rigs are poised to help raze the iconic eatery and haul its guts off to the landfill. The empty building has seen incidents of trespassing, according to a real estate agent representing the owner, a family company in Salt Lake City called Romney Farr Properties.

The choice spot by the park just off Interstate 80 is considered one of the more commercially desirable locations in and around Sugar House’s rapidly growing central business district.

The site got re-marketed to other potential developers over the summer after the city planning commission vetoed plans in April for a Kum & Go convenience store and gas station there, citing environmental and traffic concerns. Few recent developments in what’s often dubbed Salt Lake City’s second downtown have drawn that much public opposition, with hundreds of residents weighing in.

The Iowa-based Kum & Go chain has since been bought by the parent company of Maverik, the Salt Lake City-based convenience store chain, but Kum & Go is still obligated to a 20-year lease it signed on the property adjacent to the popular park, according to broker Kip Paul of Cushman & Wakefield.

Maverik is said to have a new developer interested in building a hotel on the property, according to Paul. Attempts to reach officials with FJ Management, Maverik’s parent company, were not immediately successful.

The notion of returning the property to some kind of hospitality use has come up before. Past efforts, though, have hit challenges over a lack of available parking space, getting additional building height approved under the property’s existing zoning and the thorny prospect of obtaining a state-authorized liquor license in proximity to park grounds.

The planning commission’s 9-1 vote to reject Kum & Go’s application for a conditional use permit there also cited potential impacts on the park, air quality and secondary water supplies in nearby Parleys Creek.

Since then, city planners have also drafted a new set of minimum distances that newly built gas stations can be from rivers, streams and other bodies of water, as well as parks and open spaces.

The Sugar House Community Council, meanwhile, has seen several ideas for the property since the gas station was turned down, including the prospect of new apartments, but those options are severely limited, according one key member.

“You can’t build a luxury apartment building if you don’t have parking,” said Judi Short, chair of the council’s land use and zoning committee. Going underground for parking, she noted, is precluded by a nearby earthen dam.

A proposal to preserve the space through a land swap involving property closer to Highland High School fell through, Short said. The city has also sought to purchase the property, without success.

For now, the site’s future after the Sizzler goes remains a question mark.