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Newly mapped data shows Utah’s apartment construction boom is adding thousands of new dwellings up and down the Wasatch Front as the region endures a housing shortage.
Tens of thousands of these units will come on line within five years, rented at whatever the market will bear, as the map below attests. Zoom in for granular display and hover over individual dots for more information.
The dots are color-coded, with greens and blues for market-rate apartment projects already completed, in the works or proposed. Orange and red dots denote projects that will include some affordable units, subsidized in most cases by government or the private sector to ensure rents are more within reach of Utahns earning incomes below the regional median.
Surging supply vs. hot demand
The data reflects nearly 13,500 new apartment units either recently finished in Utah’s main population centers or in the works. Another 20,000 or so are either proposed or already initially permitted at city halls across the state, with potential completion between now and 2025 or so.
The trend toward more apartment construction in Utah since 2010 had already been dramatic, and then it hit the gas pedal about four years ago as the state’s economy continued to add jobs and draw newcomers. The boom defies all state records now as pandemic-induced demand for rental housing and homes for sale has spiked and developers move to meet it.
New numbers also reveal how widespread the apartment building boom is, with nearly as many units proposed for construction now as have been built in Salt Lake, Weber, Davis and Utah counties since 2016. It continues to tilt along the Wasatch Front toward more multifamily home construction adding to the overall housing stock and away from the building of single-family homes, although that is continuing at a rapid pace as well.
The average large apartment project is growing in size, now falling between 100 and 200 dwellings and with buildings of at least five stories.
Many owners of existing apartment complexes are launching or proposing expansion phases to add more units, often hundreds at a time. Some larger land developments on the drawing board, such as Olympia Hills west of Herriman and Thanksgiving Point in Lehi, envision erecting thousands of new apartments among a mix of other residential, office, hospitality and retail construction.
Several major student and senior housing projects with hundreds of new dwellings apiece are also being proposed or pursued as well.
Rents still rising
Market analysts and regular renters struggling to keep up or looking for a place to live will tell you this spike in construction has yet to ease an ongoing shortage of available homes. The latest building boom is happening amid deep pent-up demand. Experts say it is unlikely to slow rent growth that has averaged 4.5% to 6% yearly, depending on the locale.
Informed estimates are that Utah lacks approximately 50,000 single-family homes, apartments and other housing options affordable to those with average incomes.
For the U.S. as a whole, that deficit is pegged at around 5.5 million homes of all kinds, with 1.1 million of those dwellings in buildings with two to four units and 2.4 million units in complexes of at least five units, according to a new National Association of Realtors report.