As has become the new norm in preparation for a public hearing with the Salt Lake City Planning Commission, developers The Richie Group sought feedback from the commission in a work session with the body during their August 24th commission meeting.
During the work session, planning commission members focused their questions on street-level engagement and ground floor uses.
The developers are requesting from the city approvals for a zoning amendment, planned development, Conditional Building and Site Design Review (CBSDR) and conditional use for their plans for the redevelopment of Block 67, the block bounded by 200 West to 300 West and 100 South to 200 South.
The Ritchie Group wants to develop multiple buildings on 6.45 acres at the northwest and southeast corners of the block, replacing the Royal Wood Plaza building, a parking structure and a surface parking lot. The developers will break up the large project into four smaller blocks via a curved throughway street that will connect 300 West to 200 South.
“It’s going to be a great enhancement of what today is an asphalt parking lot in a key part of town,” said David Abraham of Architectural Nexus. “We are hoping to really improve the use of this area and make some connections in town. I think we could really improve the experience.”
The project would be built in two phases. The first phase will focus on the redevelopment of Blocks A and B at the block’s northwest corner and will include two mixed-used buildings that will consist of a mixed-use residential building and a double-branded hotel building. Both buildings will be 11-stories tall.
The residential building will occupy the corner with frontage on both 100 South and 300 West. The residential building will have around 230 units on the top ten floors and over 12,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space and subterranean parking.
The hotel building will house two hotel brands, Aloft and Element. Both brands are under the Starwood Hotels group which was recently purchased by Marriott International Inc. The hotel building will have about 271 rooms with a cafe and deli on the ground floor and a rooftop bar.
The proposed street will be designed to accommodate both cars and pedestrians with traffic calming elements and formal and informal plaza space while also allowing for loading vehicles and through traffic. The street will be programmable like the Regent Street and will utilize a similar design that will allow the street to be easily converted into plaza space for events.
“It really wants to feel like a car is in the plaza and rather than we are trying to make a plaza out of the street,” said Abraham.
The developers would like to build much taller for the second phase. The Ritchie Group would like to build up to around 30 stories which would require a rezone from D4 (Secondary Central Business District) to D1 (Central Business District). The parcels are zoned D4 (Secondary Central Business District) which allows for heights up to 75 feet and up to 120 feet through a CBSDR. Under the D1 zone, the developers could build up to 375 feet outright or taller through a CBSDR.
Because the developers don’t plan on surpassing the 375 foot-threshold, they are also considering a request to expand the zoning overlay district, approved by the City Council in 2016, for the Salt Palace Convention Center parcels instead of complete rezone.
The zoning overlay district was created to allow for the Convention Center Hotel to be built above the Salt Palace Convention Center. The City Council set a height limit of 375 feet for any development above the convention center.
“I see this as somewhat of a bridge between downtown proper and all they way through the Gateway,” said Abraham. “This element could be kind of beacon to draw people around the convention center. This could be a landmark to draw people across town.”
According to Ryan Ritchie, of The Ritchie Group, the second phase would include at least two towers at 20-stories or taller and would add 400,000 to 500,000 square feet of office space and an additional 500 to 600 residential units. Additionally, Ritchie told the commission that the second phase could also include a grocery store, citing a lack of grocery stores in the neighborhood.
While previous work sessions for large-scale developments have tended to last for several hours, Wednesday’s work session with The Ritchie Group was relatively brief lasting about an hour. In general, commission members appeared relatively satisfied with the project details.
The developers will need to return to the Salt Lake City Planning Commission for a formal hearing for a CBSDR, zoning amendment and a planned development request. The developers hope to break ground on the first phase by spring 2018.