Boulder Ventures is hoping that the “third time’s the charm.” On Thursday developers presented the third rendition for their proposed Sugarmont Apartments to the Sugar House Community Council.
The original design, proposed for the northeast corner of the intersection of Sugarmont Drive and McClelland Street, included plans for a 10 story, 492 unit building and 759 stall parking garage. Residents were quick to reject the proposal, citing concerns over the height and scale of the project and increased traffic congestion it might bring.
The developers scaled the Sugarmont Apartments down to 9 stories and 433 units, but residents were still concerned with the size of the proposed project, and again, the developers went back to the drawing board.
Last month, Boulder Ventures unveiled new renderings for a smaller, 85-foot tall complex, consisting of two separate buildings connected by a five-story elevated walkway.
The updated project is eight-stories and consists of 352 units- including a mix of 34 of studio apartments, 206 one-bedrooms, 93 two-bedrooms, and 19 three-bedroom townhome units.
Robert Miiller, the new lead architect on the project, presented the revised plans to the community council.
“Our design goal was to create a building that would be harmonious with the urban character of Sugar House,” said Miiller. “(And) to create special moments that activate the public realm.”
Miiller emphasized elements of the new plans that he argued would engage both Sugarmont drive and McClelland Street at the pedestrian level.
He noted that a proposed public plaza and walkway, fronting both streets, would establish a landmark corner and frame the current terminus of the streetcar line.
The project still needs to go before the Planning Commission for final approval before building permits can be issued. Boulder Ventures is requesting additional setbacks to accommodate the 58-foot wide plaza.
The project is zoned CSHBD1 (Sugar House Business Dist. 1), which allows for 15-foot setbacks and requires that projects taller than 30 feet and fronting public streets or single family homes, must be stepped back 15 feet from the foundation of the building.
Instead, architects propose eliminating the setback with the building designed to slightly hang over the plaza. Miiller stated that doing so would shade the plaza in summer months, provide protection during winter and allow maximum flexibility for the future extension of the S-Line streetcar.
Miiller also indicated that Boulder Ventures and Studio PBA Architects are working closely with Mecham Management, the developers of an adjacent proposed 105-foot medical office building, to establish a shared pedestrian and auto street directly north of the Sugarmont Apartments.
As part of their proposed development, Mecham Management intends to extend Wilmington Avenue past Highland Drive, to alleviate traffic congestion resulting from the office building.
After receiving feedback from planning staff on public space, Studio PBA Architects met with Mecham to design a pedestrian and car friendly street that they argued would have similar elements as the recently-updated 100 South block of Regent Street.
Some residents were still concerned about traffic congestion and inquired about parking.
Miiller responded by stating that the proposed 460 parking stalls, as well as the extension of Wilmington Avenue, would adequately mitigate congestion.
“Maybe (future residents) work and drive their car home,” Miiller added, “but after they’re home they’re not back in their cars, they’re out in their neighborhood.”
One resident voiced concerns about the benefit of a pedestrian walkway into the heart of the block without ground-floor retail.
Miiller suggested that adding retail in the Sugarmont Apartments could potentially detract from the retail core around the Sugar House Monument Plaza.
Instead, Miiller argued that the new walkways would orient pedestrians to the center of the Sugar House Business District; while, the townhomes and ground floor amenity space, such as a fitness center, with transparent storefront glazing, would sufficiently activate the street level.
“We’re (focused on) creating a nice beacon landmark that will ground and anchor this corner of Sugar House and lead into the heart and soul of Monument Plaza,” said Miiller.