“Small” Lake City keeps growing up.
Need proof? Check out the ever-rising skyline, where 2021 and 2022 will bring three new skyscrapers to the heart of Utah’s capital:
• The 24-story Liberty Sky apartment tower, climbing 250 feet.
• The 25-story 95 State at City Creek office complex, soaring 393 feet.
• The 26-story Hyatt Regency convention center hotel, climbing 375 feet.
None of these high-rises will displace the city’s top two skyscrapers in terms of height. Those are the 26-floor Wells Fargo Center on Main Street (at 422 feet) and the 28-story LDS Church Office Building (420 feet). (It’s a myth that Salt Lake City ever had a rule against building anything taller than the North Temple behemoth housing offices for the state’s predominant faith.)
The Wells Fargo building will lose its lofty status, however, when the planned 39-story, 448-foot Kensington Tower peaks above all the others. Home to a vacated Carl’s Jr. restaurant, the northwest corner of State Street and 200 South, will, at a date not yet set, see luxury residences replace fast-food burgers.
On Monday, global developer Hines, based in Houston, unveiled its latest plans for a new 31-story skyscraper at 150 S. Main, where the historic Utah Theater is to be demolished under a deal inked in late 2019 by former Mayor Jackie Biskupski.
If it rises as planned, the 392-foot tower, to be called Main Street Apartments, will offer 400 new dwellings with 40 more affordable, 355 at market rates and five penthouses. It will have a separate parking structure and a new wide-corridor plaza and park running east to west at ground level on Main, even with Regent Street.
Designs also call for a striking, two-story open and columned sky lounge at the midrise 21st and 22nd floors and a private terrace on the rooftop, near the tower’s luxury residences.
Little slowdown in 2020
Not even a global pandemic could knock Salt Lake City off this upward trajectory. With construction deemed essential under health edicts, a multiyear downtown building boom kept rolling last year and will now reach well into 2021 and beyond — pushing the city upward and out as it adds new skyscrapers, scads of office spaces and hundreds of apartments and hotel rooms.
Though they all shuddered with the coronavirus, only a small fraction of nearly 50 major developments in the city center’s pipeline has faltered due to COVID-19. Volumes of new building permits and plan reviews even strained City Hall at times as a long-sought critical mass of downtown residents and housing units added since 2010 continues to mushroom.
The new skyscrapers will be unmistakable on the city’s mountain-framed horizons. They will bring additional height and density, new standards of residential and office luxury, and a distinct architectural feel.
Under city standards adopted just before this latest building spurt, the new downtown landmarks are designed for lively ground floors to create a sense of vibrancy. Their facades and relationship to the street are shaped to make walking the city more interesting, with engaging entrances, big windows and street-side shops, eateries and other eye-drawing features.
“All these kind of work together to create an ensemble effect that is much more visually lively,” said Brenda Case Scheer, University of Utah professor emeritus of architecture and planning.
If struggling downtown merchants can hold on, Scheer and others insist, the construction and new residents are likely to elevate foot traffic and commerce well past a vaccine while bumping up the city’s world profile in general.
“I’ve been waiting for Salt Lake to be a city for a long time,” joked Scheer, who heads the city’s Planning Commission. “Every city advertises its skyline,” and especially with the Wasatch range as a backdrop, “we have the potential for a really beautiful skyline.”
Dozens of other projects underway in 2021 will bring new midsize buildings, including the Post District, spanning more than a city block from 500 South to 600 South between 300 West and 400 West. And while these may not greatly alter the skyline, their office, retail and residential offerings will continue to change life downtown.
Here’s a look at the projects coming on line this year and soon afterward.
95 State at City Creek
At 25 stories, this top-end office tower at 100 South and State Street is set to open in fall 2021. It’s the work of City Creek Reserve, a development arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which also built the 25-floor, 380-foot 111 Main, a little over a block away.
The building, dubbed 95 State at City Creek, aims to be a pinnacle in what’s called Class A office life, with 515,000 square feet of workspaces that backers say will “reinvent the 9-to-5” experience and promote the health and well-being of its occupants. It also will include a ground-level meetinghouse.
At 393 feet high, it will edge out 111 Main as the city’s third tallest building in today’s lineup.
Designed by Chicago-based architects at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the tower also further solidifies the LDS Church among downtown’s top developers of office, retail and residential properties, a portfolio that includes the neighboring City Creek Center, opened in 2012.
Hyatt Regency Salt Lake City
Tourism boosters in Salt Lake County toiled for more than a decade to make this tower at West Temple and 200 South happen, hoping its big room count and spacious meeting halls will help draw some the country’s largest national conventions.
The new $377 million, 26-story Hyatt Regency Salt Lake City won’t open until fall 2022, but three levels of concrete construction above that southwest corner near the Salt Palace are already complete and vertical steel will start going up later this month, according to Salt Lake County.
Work on the building’s exterior facade and additional stories will be notable in 2021. The long rectangular tower will boast a distinct curved exterior at its south end and extend north like a wall along a portion of that block on West Temple. Earlier plans for multistory LED screens facing onto 200 South have been discarded.
According to the county, pandemic-related event cancellations at the Salt Palace are letting construction crews make unexpected headway on the hotel, which is being built by Portman Holdings of Atlanta and southern Utah-based DDRM.
This 24-story residential tower going up at at 151 S. State will be a stunner on several scores, not least as the city’s first building of that height devoted to high-end apartments for rent.
Pushed by developers Cowboy Partners and The Boyer Co., the $90 million tower will offer up to 300 primarily one-bedroom dwellings, with some studios and two-bedroom units, all at market rates. Residents get access to a penthouse clubhouse, pool, game room, fitness center and a ground-floor parking structure.
The building’s exterior is clad in glass and exposed concrete with a distinct industrial feel, designed by Atlanta-based architects Smallwood, Reynolds, Stewart, Stewart & Associates.
The tower is scheduled for completion in late 2021, according to its builder, Utah-based Jacobsen Construction.
Most of the heavy lifting on this 10-story building of new offices to be named 650 Main, located at Main Street and 600 South, will happen this year with an opening planned in early 2022.
Developers with Houston-based Patrinely Group broke ground in July after securing EnerBank USA, a consumer lending company, as a tenant for the building’s top three floors.
The office and retail tower will have a new TRAX station nearby, to be funded with contributions to the Utah Transit Authority by the city, its Redevelopment Agency and several developers now chasing projects in the neighborhood.
The tower is designed by HOK, a global firm based in St. Louis, and plans call for a spacious lobby, ground-floor shops, a private courtyard and spaces for indoor and outdoor dining.
Assuming 650 Main succeeds, Patrinely says it plans to construct a similar office tower on adjacent land at 645 W. Temple.
Mya, The Shop and Avia (aka The Exchange)
This $124 million residential and commercial project, also called The Exchange, is spread over the high-profile corner of 300 East and 400 South, and is expected to wrap up in 2021.
Developers with New York-based Domain Cos., which is partnering with Salt Lake City’s Giv Group, say Mya will have 126 units of mostly affordable apartments, opening early in 2021, to be followed by The Shop, a $14 million coworking community.
According to Giv Group, most rents in the five-story Mya are to be kept within reach of those making as low as half the city’s median wages. Avia, at nine stories, will be more of a high-end complex with 286 one-, two- and three-bedroom units, to be finished in spring 2021.
The city, which partnered with Giv and Domain to make the affordable piece possible, says it needs housing of all types, but especially at more moderate prices and rents, even as planners approved nearly 3,500 new units in 2020.
The Exchange complex will have ample room for street-level retailers, as well as rooftop gardens and a solar-powered heating and cooling system.
The Exchange joins several apartment complexes built along that commercial corridor since 2012, when city officials gave 400 South and other arteries with mass transit special zoning rules meant to encourage higher-density development along TRAX lines.
Built by ClearWater Homes in Salt Lake City and Provo-based PEG Cos., this residential complex, with two six-floor structures and a three-floor building all at 340 W. 200 South, will open its first units in spring 2021, just south of Vivint Smart Home Arena.
Paperbox Lofts has a total 195 new apartments built around an inner plaza on what was a thin, two-acre former industrial site once used to make paper boxes. Like The Exchange, drawing on financial backing from Salt Lake City, Paperbox Lofts also will have affordable units, with 39 of its apartments rented to residents making 60% of area median incomes.
The project will deploy a new multilevel automated parking system for the first time in Salt Lake City, too. Made by Oakland-based CityLift, the structure is akin to a vehicle vending machine that will stack and retrieve residents’ cars.
The West Quarter
This huge development, with its first stage rising 11 floors on the city’s Block 67, bounded by 100 South and 200 South from 200 West to 300 West, will effectively push some of that new downtown height farther west and tie in downtown pedestrians with an emerging entertainment and office district being shaped out of former retail spaces at The Gateway.
Developers with The Ritchie Group in Salt Lake City and Garn Development Co. in Layton are constructing the commercial and residential pieces of The West Quarter in phases, with rolling completion dates through 2022 and beyond.
Phase one will include an 11-story tower of 240 luxury apartments for rent, to be called The Charles, with more than 11,655 square feet of ground-level retail space. That and a second 11-story building, dubbed The Grid Hotel, with 270 guest rooms, are set for completion in June 2022.
Along the way, The Ritchie Group has floated plans for as many as 650 dwellings over The West Quarter’s many phases, along with two hotels, an office tower, retail shops, a tree-lined street cutting through the block and an underground parking structure offering more than 1,200 stalls.
Developers and the city are in talks with members of Utah’s Asian community on ways The West Quarter will acknowledge and celebrate adjacent Japantown, a once-thriving neighborhood along 100 South, possibly with a pocket park or other amenities.
255 S. State
Groundbreaking for this high-profile housing project at 255 S. State St., tentatively planned in early 2021, will bring immense sighs of relief at City Hall.
After more than eight years of delays, engineering problems and financial struggles for other developers, the site was empty and in disrepair when the city’s Redevelopment Agency hired Brinshore Development in 2018. The Chicago-based firm has since finalized plans and financing to build 190 studios and apartments and more than 20,000 square feet of lower-floor commercial spaces in 13-story and eight-story glass and steel towers on the city-owned lot.
The two buildings will face onto a signature midblock “paseo,” or walkway, designed for special events. Construction is set to start in January 2021, and Brinshore says it’ll be done in two years.
All but 22 of the project’s apartments will be kept affordable, including some accessible to residents making as low as 20% of average wages. By then, what was once a large, rusting and graffiti-pocked eyesore along State Street will be gone.