This small grocery store and attached home in Salt Lake City's Capitol Hill Historic District was ripe for demolition. The abandoned building was a neighborhood eyesore and several developers expressed interest in the site for new construction. Fortunately, Kris Hopfenbeck also had her eye on the property.
A resident of Capitol Hill herself, Kris purchased the building in 2000 with a plan for bringing it back to life as a neighborhood asset. Although the building housed a grocery store until 1980, it had been down-zoned for residential use. Thus, the first challenge Kris faced was obtaining a zoning exception for a commercial use. Working closely with the Salt Lake City Planning Department, Kris secured approval to create a grocery store in the historic house and a restaurant in the historic store.
Adapting the building for its new use required extensive modifications to the rear of the building. The building's entire rear wall, floor, and roof were removed and rebuilt during the project. In addition, a new basement was dug out for a food storage and preparation area. Kris, however, worked with the Salt Lake Historic Landmarks Commission to preserve the building's character-defining features throughout the project. Despite some heartbreaking setbacks, she carefully preserved and restored the building's street façade
The Center Street Grocery and Em's Restaurant project has benefited the Capitol Hill neighborhood in many ways. It transformed a derelict building into an inviting commercial space. It saved a rare Utah example of a side-by-side commercial and residential building. But, most of all, it created a wonderful gathering place where neighbors can get to know each other, work, or just enjoy great food together.