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The City Journals

South Salt Lake downtown will be different with townhomes

Dec 01, 2017 08:00AM ● By Holly Vasic

The property for development is between WinCo Foods and TRAX. A man sleeps as he waits for train. (Holly Vasic/City Journals)

By Holly Vasic | [email protected]    

After weeks of back and forth, rescheduling and other delays, the South Salt Lake City Council voted yes to an ordinance that makes changes to the original plan for residential rental properties in the new South Salt Lake downtown area. The council voted unanimously at a Nov. 8 regular meeting.

A section of the downtown location from 2100 South to the S-Line and State Street to Main Street was set to have apartments built there, but the developers, Cowboy Partners, changed the plan to townhome-style rental properties instead. 

Keith Smith, of Form Development who works with Cowboy Partners, let out a sigh of relief when the meeting ended. Smith said he knew that if the they did not “get a shovel in the ground” that by year’s end they may have to abandon the project all together. As weeks passed, Smith attended numerous council meetings. With no decision being made, he said Cowboy Partners began to lose money. 

During the meeting that finally decided the project’s fate, conceptual renderings of what the townhomes would look like were shown. The images ranged from outside views to floor plans. 

Originally, it was agreed that more urban, higher-stacked apartments would be built in the area with a parking garage for the tenants. The plan was adjusted to two- to three-story townhomes with single-attached garages. One of the reasons the council was dismayed was because they hoped the original plan’s parking garage could be hidden by small commercial activities, such as a barber shop or a cafe. Being next door to the brand new WinCo Foods this brought more retail shops to the area. 

Councilmember Shane Siwik noted the first plan had 129 units that would be under 700-square-feet, due to studio and one-bedroom layouts, and the new plan had only 28 units under that square footage because there are no studios. 

Siwik said, “Overall, I don’t see anything wrong with this” and in fact saw the small spaces as a positive. 

So, why the change? Smith explained that a soil report was a big factor. Some expensive overhaul would have had to be done to the ground to be sturdy enough to hold a large concrete parking garage. When analyzing the cost versus benefit Cowboy Partners decided to change the structure. South Salt Lake City Economic Development Consultant Randy Sant explained that “Geo technical work” was not part of the purchase agreement, hence the developer discovered the soil issue later on.  

Another compelling reason for the developer was the type of renters townhomes bring compared to apartments, which Siwik also considered. The townhome-style units bring a “more homey feel” Smith described. Smith believes the change from 157 apartments to 95 townhomes will also make the project standout, different from other rental properties in the valley. 

“We feel like a townhome, a for-rent townhome product, is a big differentiator from, you know, your typical large apartment complexes,” Smith said. 

As the South Salt Lake City downtown area project progresses the original vision may change but overall the intention still remains. Providing a space in the city near public transit to shop, eat, and live is still happening. In fact some of these adjustments seem to be for the better. 

“It is going to be a sprint to the finish line to get this project under construction before the end of the year,” Smith wrote in an email, “but now that we have approval from planning commission and city council, we have renewed confidence.  We are thrilled to deliver this development to the community.”