Among so many new housing and office projects in downtown Salt Lake City, a $124.3 million development called The Exchange already stood out.
Then, its creators christened it with a pink flamingo favorite.
New murals are among several last pieces in the transit-oriented project on the southwest corner of busy 400 South and 300 East and along the TRAX Red Line, finished after a little more than two years of construction.
Culminating work that saw only minor pandemic delays, New Orleans-based Domain Cos. and Giv Development in Salt Lake City added dramatic multistory public murals to the exteriors of apartment buildings called Mya and Avia. Both welcomed additions to the city’s pinched housing stock, including 80 affordable units, were fully open for leasing as of last week, along with an adjacent shared workspace called The Shop.
In a stunning piece of urban art called “The Return of Pink Floyd,” which evolves depending on the passerby’s perspective, Philadelphia-based artist Phillip Adams used a side of Mya to depict the legendary flamingo that escaped from Tracy Aviary in 1988, then wintered on the shores of the Great Salt Lake. The mysterious bird was last seen in 2005.
That and a mural on Avia called “Home Again” — offering symbols of hope and unity in shades of green, by South African artist Kem Tama — highlight an art collection inside with lots of Utah flavor. Works from 20 painters, photographers, sculptors and more fill The Shop’s three floors of fully furnished office spaces — from phone booth-styled personal chill rooms to plush conference and meeting areas, accessible via monthly subscription as opposed to a long-term lease.
The Exchange’s three buildings cluster tightly together on the corner flush with 400 South, part of city concessions meant to entice higher-density housing near transit. Mya, Avia and The Shop fill different roles — part of why The Shop’s community manager, Anne Olsen, calls it a new “five-minute city” downtown.
“Folks can have everything from a cup of coffee and a meal with friends, to working for the day, get their workout in, have the apartment of their dreams and that great view,” Olsen said. “And all those things happen in a single city block. There’s something really special about that.”
Affordable homes led city, state and federal officials to chip in big sums in financial backing to help developers make the project happen, including a $3 million loan from the city’s Redevelopment Agency and another $622,500 loaned straight from city coffers.
Mya, at 447 S. Blair St. and connected directly to The Shop, offers 126 micro-units — averaging 400 square feet. Forty-six units will rent at market rates. Rents in 40 of the narrow yet sleekly designed dwellings will match the budgets of folks making 80% of the city’s median incomes. The remaining 40 will be adjusted to suit those earning 40% of median wages.
Avia has 286 luxury apartments, studio to three bedroom, and is located at 330 E. 400 South. Rents start at $1,375 a month. Both come on line as the city, state and region face an acute shortage of homes and rentals.
The Shop, while part of a growing number of shared-office providers on the Wasatch Front, is the city’s first built from the ground up for that purpose instead of being remodeled in existing buildings, according to Domain’s co-CEO Matt Schwartz.
That helped make The Shop the city’s “greenest” shared workspace so far, Schwartz said. It’s also a first in carbon neutrality, with solar panels, electric vehicle charging stations, bike-sharing programs for residents and top standards on energy efficiency. That dovetails with the developers’ press for affordable housing, he said, and a desire to contribute to the city’s social fabric.
Domain has a new residential skyscraper in the works now at 370 S. West Temple, promising several food and beverage outlets, including a “very new and exciting” themed restaurant and entertainment venue. “We’re really looking to take on projects that improve lives and livelihoods in the communities we’re working in,” Schwartz said in an interview.
Chris Parker, Schwartz’s counterpart at Giv and a developer behind other affordable projects, has said The Exchange’s many features “reflect the character of our local community.” It optimizes land use and will enliven that corner, Parker said, and eco-friendly living and office spaces “show that quality growth needn’t come at the expense of our fragile airshed.”