Convinced that downtown living is increasingly desirable, real-estate developers Cowboy Properties and Boyer Co. want to build a 24-story apartment building on State Street between 100 and 200 South.
Sandwiched between the Wallace F. Bennett Federal Building on 100 South and the Maverik headquarters on 200 South, the $90 million high-rise would include roughly 300 apartment units and a rooftop swimming pool. A five-story parking terrace would be built on its east side, hidden from street views by surrounding buildings.
Although rent levels would vary, Cowboy Properties President and CEO Dan Lofgren said most would cost near the “top of the market in today’s market. We’ll have studios to very large two-bedrooms, units that go for under $1,000 [a month] while some of the largest will be several thousand.”
In the next couple of weeks, Lofgren said, he will submit a formal application to the Salt Lake City Planning Division. The developers and the city already are talking, going over the relatively streamlined approval process.
A height variance will be required since the structure is likely to be at least 250 feet tall — about twice the height of the controversial office tower proposed in Holladay on the former Cottonwood Mall site, but not as tall as the 30-story condominium built at 99 W. South Temple as part of City Creek Center.
“Any building over 100 feet has to go through a site design process … to make sure there are no negative impacts on the street and sidewalks and that it adds to the city’s skyline,” said city Planning Director Nick Norris. “Given that they’re on State Street, shading on public spaces shouldn’t be an issue.”
There might not be much opposition, either, when the application prompts the city to send notices to adjacent property owners and the Downtown Community Council.
“We’re excited to see residential on State Street, which is a fairly new addition to the ecosystem,” said Christian Harrison, the Downtown Community Council chairman. “It is a good sign that State Street is turning a corner. We do hope it spurs more development farther south along State Street.”
The Salt Lake Chamber’s Downtown Alliance praised the proposal for advancing its Downtown Rising campaign.
“Bringing more residents to downtown is a key priority of Downtown Rising,” said alliance spokesman Nick Como. “To see a 24-story building, and the resulting population increase, is another important step in downtown’s evolution. Seeing two local developers partner to bring a unique high-rise project for rental units proves the Salt Lake market is becoming increasingly attractive for high-density projects.”
Boyer Co. owns the two midblock parcels of land where the high rise is proposed. A high-rise office tower originally was conceived for the site. But two to three years ago, Boyer staff started talking about a project jointly with Lofgren, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association’s Utah Developer of the Year for 2017.
They discussed mixed uses involving offices, residential and commercial, even a hotel.
“As the downtown residential market has evolved, and as we massaged what we thought was the best option, this residential tower emerged,” Lofgren said. “Downtown Salt Lake City has become an amenity-rich environment. It’s become a great neighborhood. The pieces that were missing 10 years ago — not that it was bad then — are now filled in.“
First and foremost: the Harmons City Creek market at 135 E. 100 South.
“The grocery store makes it a neighborhood,” Lofgren said. “For many household configurations, the option of living downtown has become the preferred option. These are households hoping to live without a car, households looking for the convenience of being close to work, households energized by all the activities downtown, households attracted to this notion of a high rise and the views and lifestyle it offers.”
At the projected rent levels, he sees these apartments appealing to people working at high-tech and financial-services companies, law firms and banks. Retirees also are likely renters, Lofgren added, “drawn especially by the arts downtown — the symphony, the ballet, Eccles Theater. That’s a pretty full basket of offerings.”
Other than the height variance, the proposal doesn’t require Planning Commission approval and can get the go-ahead from the city planning staff if no objections are raised by neighbors or identified in staff reviews.
Planning Director Norris said the shift from office tower to residential high-rise is “certainly consistent with our master plan policies, which try to increase the number of people living downtown.”
“Offices are daytime [operations] and don’t create vibrancy or activity in the evenings. In downtown, they create dead zones,” he added. “Apartments put eyes on public spaces basically all day long. Those residents tend to go out at night and walk around the neighborhood. It enlivens downtown.”