Builders line up another single-use building on 400 South

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Developers would build a seven-story, single-use residential building in the transit area zoning of the Central City neighborhood under a new proposal filed this week.

At 421 S. 400 E., builders would add 237 new homes in a seven-story building that partially fronts 400 South.

It would be the latest building in Transit Station Area (TSA) zoning that doesn’t include space for retail on the ground floor, an ongoing trend that has become visible along the 400 South corridor as developments continue to come online.

The new building would replace an Arby’s drive-thru on 400 South and a shuttered office building on 400 East but not the Coffee Break to the east or KeyBank to the west.

Residents would access the 223 parking stalls via driveway entries and exits on 400 East and on Denver Street, a mid-block street between 400 East and 500 East. 

Renderings show the garage has space for bike storage but don’t elaborate on the size or number of bikes that could be accommodated. 

The space will be situated between Trolley Square and Downtown SLC. They will be some of the thousands of new homes being added to 400 South in recent years.

The developers believe they meet enough of the requirements under the city’s TSA zoning rules to skip a lengthy trip to the Planning Commission. If staff in the Planning Division agree, the project could get underway before the end of the year.

Project details 

  • Studios: 119 units
  • One-bedroom: 103 units
  • Two-bedroom: 15 units
  • Total: 237 units
  • Parking: 223 stalls

Developer details 

  • Owner: Rockpoint Development, Inc
  • Developer: Wright Development Group
  • Architect: Envision Architectural Group

Why no retail?

The city’s planners have been quick to point out that the buildings could be retrofitted in the future to become mixed-use. But many of the new buildings are designed with low ground floor ceilings that make them difficult at best to retrofit into attractive retail in the future. 

The 421 Lofts are no exception. Whereas some architects are designing buildings with 16-24-foot ground floors to encourage active spaces at ground level, 421 Lofts’ first levels will be 11 feet tall.

That design may be due to the building’s unique shape, which leaves it with narrow frontages along 400 South, 400 East and Denver Street.

Still, it’s hard to ignore readers’ ire as buildings consistently ignore mixed uses along transit corridors in favor of single-use buildings. The good thing for this corridor is there are often daily amenities nearby, and 421 S. 400 E. is considered a walkers’ and bikers’ paradise that’s steps from transit leading into Downtown, up to the University of Utah and beyond. 

It’s also possible developers are responding to the reality that 400 South is a state-owned surface highway — SR-186 — with seven lanes of high-speed car traffic next to narrow sidewalks with no median in between. That makes it a supremely unpleasant place to walk.

There’s no easy answer to what the solution is (though it probably involves different management of 400 South).

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Posted by Taylor Anderson

Taylor Anderson grew up near Chicago and made his way West to study journalism at the University of Montana. He's been a staff writer for the Chicago Tribune, Bend Bulletin and Salt Lake Tribune. A move from Portland, Oregon, to Salt Lake City opened his eyes to the importance of good urban design for building strong neighborhoods. He lives on the border of the Liberty Wells and Ballpark neighborhoods.