Housing in the suburbs swelling in the southwest corner of the Salt Lake Valley following the 2008 recession often share a similar look: a sea of beige and off-white stucco, maybe some stacked stone, or brick trim with double-wide garage doors facing the street surrounded by a green lawn on about a quarter-acre.
But thanks in part to an effort in Herriman to elevate the design quality and promote missing middle housing, a developer is building dozens of new single-family attached homes in a new urbanist style.
“We have a few major, regional builders here,” said Michael Maloy, Herriman City Planning Director. “They all do similar styles with some options. They are fine but that is mostly what we’ve done in Herriman. My objective has been to try and bring some better design and some more thoughtful development.”
Alpine-based Goodboro Development group found an ally in Maloy as they looked for the right spot for their mixed residential concept based on the “English Garden” suburbs, which feature attached houses with small front yards and common green space.
Eric Magleby, a partner with Goodboro Development said the group teamed up with architect Bradford Houston’s Design Studio based in Salt Lake City. Houston is known for high-end home design but is also a student and proponent of new urbanism. Magleby said Goodboro’s Herriman project, Camden Commons, emphasizes design elements from both schools of thought.
“We want to show that great design doesn’t have to be just for the wealthy,” Magleby said. We talk to people all the time who really love what we’ve done with the high-end homes but can’t afford it so we want to replicate some of that for a different market.”
The group broke ground on Camden Commons in mid-December. The 4.2-acre site in Herriman is at the northern edge of an existing planned unit development and consists of 33 attached homes built on individual lots to allow for simple ownership.
Configurations include paired homes, side-by-side triplexes and “tower homes,” on smaller, corner lots. All the properties are all “backloaded” with garages accessed from alleys or shared driveways, a feature common to new urbanist developments like nearby Daybreak. Backloading removes the typical wall of garage doors from the public street and is considered more engaging and pedestrian friendly.
On one side of the development, rows of connected triplexes and paired homes will face each other across a shared green space.
Maloy said contrary to the visions many have of development in the southwest valley, Herriman has a considerable amount of higher density within developments including rows of attached townhomes and apartments and city leaders had become reluctant to approve any more.
“Herriman has done a lot of density, but I don’t know if we’ve really seen the benefits,” Maloy said. “There have been a lot of larger developments but those are getting harder to do. Now there are smaller, in-fill lots to be built on.”
The smaller, in-fill lot that is now the site for Camden Commons was at one time owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who purchased it in the early 2000s as a potential site for a ward house.
Over the years the plans and the neighborhood changed and the Church decided to auction the property as surplus. Goodboro was the second highest bidder for the property and when the winning bidders eventually decided against developing the lot, Maloy said he contacted Magleby.
“I was glad they were finally in the driver’s seat,” Maloy said, adding that he’d spent considerable time and effort to clear up confusion about the permitted use for the lot.
“As part of the larger development, it had gone through changes starting back in the 2008 recession. We did a ton of research to figure out what exactly it could be used for,” he said.
Ultimately it was discovered the lot was considered part of the existing PUD and projects could be approved at the Planning Commission level.
“We showed the Planning Commission some elevations and they really liked it,” Magleby said. “We were able to get some bonus density to make this work. Mike has been very helpful in getting the entitlements and is a real advocate for better urbanism and design which can be harder to find in the suburbs.”
Magleby said while the homes in Camden Commons are expected to be priced from $550,000 to $650,000 they are helping fill the higher end of the missing middle or an entry to ownership that has been lacking in the current market dominated by rental apartments and larger, luxury homes. According to several real estate websites, the median price for a home in Herriman is $658,500.
Goodboro aspires “to do more to fill that missing middle,” Magleby added. “We have designs for four, eight 12 and even 14-plexes we’d like to do. With this project we’re hoping to show you can do multifamily, attached housing that is different from what you usually see.”
Maloy said he hopes Camden Commons will set a standard for future developments in the area.
“This is a good example of an infill with better design and more authentic design and hopefully this will encourage some others as these in-fill projects are getting harder and harder to do,” Maloy said.
Goodboro is currently at work on similar mixed housing type projects in St. George and Vineyard.