Commission approves Cowboy’s updated design

South Elevation (fronting 600 South) rendering of the Liberty Square Apartments as designed by Architectural Nexus. Image courtesy Salt Lake City Planning Division.
South Elevation (fronting 600 South) rendering of the Liberty Square Apartments as designed by Architectural Nexus. Image courtesy Salt Lake City Planning Division.

Work sessions with the Historic Landmark Commission (HLC) may become more popular now that the Commission approved a major alterations, demolition and new construction request for the Liberty Square apartments, a project by Cowboy Partners near the intersection of 500 South and 600 East.

The HLC tabled the project last October, requesting that the developers return with more detailed architectural plans.

During last month’s commission meeting, Douglas Thimm of Arch Nexus, the architects of the project, participated in a work session with HLC.  The session allowed the Commission to direct feedback and guidance to the representatives from Cowboy before the developers returned for a formal hearing.

Developers are discovering that meeting the expectations of the Historic Landmark Commission (HLC) is not guaranteed.  Garbett Homes went before the HLC four consecutive times before the Commission approved the design and new construction for the Hardison Apartments at the intersection of 500 East and South Temple.

Thursday’s decision by the HLC could inspire more developers to participate in work sessions with the commission.  Besides Cowboy, representatives of Ivory Homes subsidiary, ICO (Ivory Commercial and Multifamily) agreed in April to a work session with the HLC after the commission tabled a decision on the ICO’s request to build a nine-story, 139-unit development on the southeast corner of the 500 East and South Temple intersection.

An aerial map view of the site area for the Liberty Square Apartments. The area that will include new construction is outlined in red. Image courtesy Salt Lake Planning Division.
An aerial map view of the site area for the Liberty Square Apartments. The area that will include new construction is outlined in red. Image courtesy Salt Lake Planning Division.

Cowboy plans to build the Liberty Square Apartments, near the 500 South and 600 East intersection.  The four-story project includes 135 residential units and will front both 600 East and 500 South.

The project site consists of several buildings, including the Ensign Floral Building on 600 East.  All but the Ensign Floral Building will be demolished to make way for new construction.  The floral building will be preserved and integrated into the project.

Developers need approvals for changes to the Floral Ensign Building and for new construction because the project is in the Central City Local Historic District.

The HLC approved the updated design first presented during last month’s work session.  Planning staff treated the updated design as a new project because staff felt that the new design differed significantly from the original presented in October.  The original design appeared to have a brick and stucco exterior with brown and beige colors.  According to the project’s architects the new design “takes a cue from the Ensign Floral Building’s mid-century roots” with a mid-century mixed with “modern aesthetic” and uses a different color palette with orange, white and a darker brown.

Cowboy plans to maximize the lot size with zero setbacks on both 500 South and Green Street.  A parking structure will separate the residential building from the Trader Joe’s and Staples to the north.  The residential building will wrap around an inner courtyard.  The developers plan to include a sidewalk along Green Street to provide a mid-block pedestrian connection.

The approval from the HLC will allow the developers to demolish seven of the eight abandoned structures on the site.   Only the Ensign Floral building on 600 East will remain.  Cowboy plans to restore the floral building and convert it into a five-residential unit building.

Alterations to the building will include adding more windows to open up the building and ensure that all units receive natural light.  Cowboy will also change the current sign to reflect the building’s new use.

Liberty Square will be Cowboy’s third residential project under construction in Salt Lake City.  Construction is winding down on the Liberty Crest Apartments, a 177-unit development near the intersection of 200 South and 200 East.  While construction is starting on the Liberty Boulevard Apartments, a four-story 267 unit residential mixed-used development near the 400 South and 700 East intersection.

*This is an updated version of an article originally published June 2, 2016.

East Elevation (fronting Green Street) rendering of the Liberty Square Apartments as designed by Architectural Nexus. Image courtesy Salt Lake City Planning Division.
East Elevation (fronting Green Street) rendering of the Liberty Square Apartments as designed by Architectural Nexus. Image courtesy Salt Lake City Planning Division.
Rendering of a renovated Ensign Floral Building. Image courtesy Salt Lake City planning documents.
Rendering of a renovated Ensign Floral Building. Image courtesy Salt Lake City planning documents.
The former Ensign Floral Building as seen from 600 East. Photo by Isaac Riddle.
The former Ensign Floral Building as seen from 600 East. Photo by Isaac Riddle.

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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.