Art teachers evicted from Pioneer Craft House in South Salt Lake
SOUTH SALT LAKE – It has been a working space and gathering place for artists and youth groups for decades. However, people inside the Pioneer Craft House in South Salt Lake say they are being evicted. This comes after years of legal battles between the city and the management of the center.
Workers and instructors inside PCH say they only had three days to pack their bags and move from the facility at 3300 South, nearly 500 East. This can be a tall order for artisans like Fred Ochoa. He teaches Native American-style flute making, and his workspace is filled with wood, tools, and heavy equipment like towers.
“If you look around and look at all the equipment and everything, there’s no way to get it all out of here in three days,” he says.
Ochoa is not on the centre’s board of directors, but he believes the lease between management and the city is not as clear as South Salt Lake officials claim. He also believes the city has wanted to keep the facility to itself since taking control of it in 2008.
“It’s so bad since the city took over. For ten years, they have been trying to get us out of here, ”he said.
However, city officials say management has been extremely inconsistent in paying rent. Neighborhood Department acting director Sharen Hauri said the management team signed a new lease with them in 2013, but the center never really kept its end of the deal.
“The first year we had a lease with them that charged them rent, which was a pretty modest rent, for that they paid about a year ten and filed a lawsuit against us,” Hauri said. “Then they stopped paying.”
She said the city had tried to renegotiate a deal that would satisfy both them and the center, but nothing happened.
“For many years there have been a lot of different struggles with this. At one point, it ended in a trial for several years, ”according to Hauri.
Workers say there are thousands of dollars in artistic equipment inside the center. Hauri said they know which property they own and which the center belongs to, and that they will work in good faith to make sure teachers get what they need.