SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Salt Lake Community College on Thursday completes its purchase of a downtown building a southern Utah legislator once labeled a "rat hole."
City building inspectors last year deemed the property at 115 S. Main unsafe and SLCC had to turn away close to 300 students who were ready for classes to begin in the fall.
"We hope the negative problems are all behind us, and we're focusing right now on all the possibilities for the future," said Don Porter, SLCC vice president for business services.
Parts of the building were falling apart. It had seismic problems and did not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
SLCC was stuck in a 10-year lease with annual payments of $560,000.
The school officials considered suing the building's owner to bring the building up to code, but instead decided to buy the facility. Porter estimates that will save the school about $200,000 a year.
Sen. Bill Hickman, R-St. George, blasted SLCC President Judd Morgan and others during a 2004 legislative subcommittee meeting. Hickman wanted SLCC to sell what he called a "rat hole."
Porter said Hickman eventually came to understand that "it wasn't a matter of whether we'll be in the building or how, but that we were going to be there one way or another."
SLCC expects to open by the fall semester, offering general courses in 14 classrooms throughout the 6.5-story building.
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)