Commission approves extra height for downtown project

Rendering showing the Pierpont Apartments in relation to adjacent buildings looking northwest from 300 West. Image courtesy Salt Lake City planning documents.

The Salt Lake City Planning Commission determined that 85 feet is an appropriate height for a proposed residential building in the Depot District in downtown’s west side.  On Wednesday, the commission unanimously approved a Conditional Building and Site Design Review (CBSDR) for the Pierpont Apartments, proposed for the intersection of Pierpont Avenue and 300 West.  The project was approved with the condition that the glass on the ground floor is clear to increase the transparency on the street level.

The project by Gardiner Properties will be eight stories with 87 units that will be a mix of studios and one and two-bedroom apartments.  The project includes a three-story parking podium that will consist of 124 parking stalls, 96 of which will be reserved for the building’s tenants.  The parking podium will be concrete below five wood-framed floors of residential space.  Three residential units per floor will separate the parking levels from the street.

According to planning staff, the developers did a good job in breaking up the building with balconies and recessed areas that avoid creating a box effect and create visual interest.  The project includes open space on the at the center of the building along Pierpont that overlooks the street and has unobstructed sky view up to floors seven and eight that will have apartment units overlooking the space.

The 1,713 square-foot outdoor plaza will sit above the podium and will include a spa, sitting areas, landscaping and a barbecue area.

The site for the proposed Pierpont Apartments is zoned D-3 (Downtown Warehouse/Residential District) which allows for building heights up to 75 feet.  Under the CBSDR process, developers can be approved for building heights up to 85 feet.

Planning Commission members didn’t appear concerned about the project’s proposed height, but several members expressed concern about the lack of ground floor commercial uses.

According to John Gardiner, president of Gardiner Properties, it wasn’t possible to put commercial space on the ground floor because of a purchase agreement with the owners of the Firestone building that requires the developers to include 28 stalls reserved for the Firestone building.

Instead, residential amenities including a lobby, cyber cafe and fitness center will occupy the ground floor.  Parking will be accessed from Pierpont Avenue.

Gardiner cited the excess parking requirement, and a high water table on the property, as factors that influenced the decision to request the extra height.

“I think we’ve done a pretty good job if you compare us with the other buildings on the street that have been built in the last 10 to 15 years,” said Gardiner.

The project replaces a surface parking lot on a 150 by 115-foot parcel.  The Pierpont Apartments will no setbacks along Pierpont Avenue and 300 West but will have a 13-foot setback separating the development from the Firestone building to the south to provide pedestrian access to the parking structure.

Only two residents spoke during the public hearing, both are adjacent properties owners and both expressed concern about the proposed height of the project.

Ed Gallacher, the owner of the Crane Building argued that allowing 85 feet would go against the city’s design guidelines for downtown that have the tallest buildings at the block intersections and shorter buildings midblock.  The owner argued that since the Crane Building is 75 feet the developers of the Pierpont project shouldn’t be allowed the extra height.

“There is nothing in the neighborhood that tall,” said Gallacher. “Seventy-five feet is plenty tall.”

Gallacher later acknowledged that the adjacent Broadway Park Lofts (just east of the site of the proposed Pierpont Apartments) is 85 feet tall, but that he argued that the Broadway project was also too tall for the neighborhood.

Including the Broadway Park Lofts, the Pierpont Apartments will be the third 85-foot residential building in the area.  A block to the east, construction is underway on the Milagro Apartments, a seven-story mixed-use apartment building on the 200 West block of 200 South.  The planning commission approved the 187-unit Milagro in April 2016.

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