City wants to convert former Public Safety Building into housing

A prominent portion of a downtown block in the Central City neighborhood is poised to get a makeover. Mayor Ralph Becker and the City’s Community and Economic Development Department officially released today the Request for Proposal (RFP) for the development of the 2.5-acre, Historic Northwest Pipeline Building and Site (former Public Safety Building) at 300 East and 200 South.

“This is a great opportunity to deliver a transformative project for this area through the development of further affordable housing units and exciting new neighborhood retail,” said Mayor Becker.

The RFP calls for proposals to include the rehabilitation of the structure as well as the development of new buildings that will provide market-rate, affordable and permanent supportive housing to help address affordable housing gaps in the City’s housing stock.  

The development of the Northwest Pipeline Building is another component of the Mayor’s 5000 Doors Initiative.  The initiative seeks to address Salt Lake City’s lack of housing options that are affordable to low-wage workers and moderate-income families, persons with disabilities and those on fixed incomes by promoting the development, preservation, and support of 5,000 affordable housing units over five years.  According to the City, proposals for the pipeline project should  include at least 50 permanent supportive housing units and and a significant number of affordable housing units for residents earning at or under 60 percent of the area median income.

To ensure that the project enhances the mixed-use nature of the neighborhood, proposals will be required to include space for neighborhood businesses as well as public open space.  The selected proposal will go before a site design review to ensure that the project complements the current structure while providing active uses at the street level.

The Northwest Pipeline Building was built in 1958 and most recently served as the headquarters for Salt Lake City’s Police and Fire department operations. In 2011, the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, making a future developer eligible for tax credits to be used toward its rehabilitation. 

The Utah Heritage Foundation was an active participant in getting the building on the historic register.  According to the Kirk Huffaker, the foundation’s executive director, getting the building listed was key to ensuring its preservation and likelihood for redevelopment through tax credits.

“This building was the second major construction downtown after the Great Depression,” said Huffaker.  “These buildings have a way of continuing to make history when they are redeveloped.”

The Northwest Pipeline Building was modeled after the First Security Bank building (the Ken Garff building) built three years prior at the southeast corner of the 400 South and Main Street intersection.   That project was designed by architect Slack Winburn.  Winburn’s son, David Winburn applied what he learned working with his father on the First Security Bank building to design the Northwest Pipeline building.  Both projects feature the same international or modern style and were built with mostly the same materials.

“The city’s commitment to ground-level commercial as well as open space will be a boon to the neighborhood,” said Michael Iverson, the chair of the Central City Neighborhood Council.  “We already enjoy one of the most walkable communities in the city, this increased density will bring in more neighbors and more opportunities to walk and shop local.”

Proposals are due November 20, 2015.

The northern portion of the Northwest Pipeline Development Site as seen from 300 East. Photo by Isaac Riddle.
The northern portion of the Northwest Pipeline Development Site as seen from 300 East. Photo by Isaac Riddle.

Posted by Isaac Riddle

Isaac Riddle grew up just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. He has a BA in English literature from the University of Utah and a Masters of Journalism from Temple University. Isaac has written for Next City, The Philadelphia Public School Notebook and Salt Lake City Weekly. Before embarking on a career in journalism, Isaac taught High School English in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. Isaac is the founder of Building Salt Lake and can be reached at isaac@buildingsaltlake.com.