Downtown Rising: Updated looks at the skyline-changing developments in Salt Lake City

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Salt Lake City’s Downtown is bustling with construction activity as developers who capitalized on easy financing and high demand for housing continue to carry out their plans.

Utah’s capital city is among the nationwide leaders in housing supply growth in relation to the amount of housing that existed in the Downtown area previously, and a 6-mile walkabout around the urban core shows why.

Multiple high-rises are nearing completion and have already altered the city’s skyline. Mid-rises are going up in pockets throughout Downtown.

All that activity is creating pressure for the residents and workers who are trying to enjoy Downtown in ways that Salt Lake City policymakers should start paying attention to.

Astra Tower taking shape

Utah’s tallest building is on track to open later this year, with property managers preparing to pre-lease apartments next month.

Studios within the building start at around $1,500 per month, with two-bedrooms closer to $2,800. It’s still not clear how much the Kensington Investment Company will seek for penthouse units, which are likely to fetch top dollar given the novelty of the 41-story building and its status as the tallest in the city’s skyline.

Units appear to be oriented toward the south and east, with the HKS-designed building prioritizing views of the Wasatch Mountains and Salt Lake Valley.

A view of Astra Tower’s south-facing facade.
Astra Tower as seen from the west, with windows facing the Great Salt Lake to the west of Downtown.
Astra Tower’s north facade appears to anticipate future high-rises next to the building.

Worthington Tower

It’s gone by a number of names since we first delivered the news about plans for the new 359-unit high-rise — Convexity, Worthington, and more recently Whistleton Tower.

Worthington Tower, on the northeast corner of 200 E. 300 S. in Central City, is well on its way to completion.

The 359-unit high-rise is being built by Convexity Properties, a subset of DRW, which is most predominately based in Chicago.

The building made news earlier this month when the slats that wrap its parking garage let out a loud whistling noise during strong winds. The team behind the project said earlier this month it was working to identify the cause and fix for the whistling.

“While it’s still too early to know what happened, Ownership is committed to delivering the highest quality building under the safest standards of care,” the team told Building Salt Lake in a statement.

Worthington Tower as viewed from the west looking east near Downtown.
Convexity Tower rises from 200 East, as seen from four blocks north in March 2024.

South Temple Tower

While Hines has stalled most of its work in Salt Lake City, it recently erected a crane outside the shuttered office tower it plans to convert into high-end apartments on South Temple Downtown.

The Texas-based developer is calling the office-to-residential conversion project “Seraph,” likely in homage to Seraph Young Ford, the first woman to cast a ballot in the United States.

One of several conversion projects in the capital city, Seraph is expected to offer 221 luxury units once it’s complete. Hines said it wasn’t sure when that would be.

“Construction is gearing up to begin and we can provide more information soon on timeline,” the team said in a statement to Building Salt Lake.

South Temple Tower is being converted from class B office into 221 new luxury residential units.
Looking at South Temple Tower from the east.

Utah Theater Hole

After Hines worked with the city to quickly demolish the historic Utah Theater two years ago, the developer missed its chance to capitalize on favorable financing and plans for an apartment tower on Main Street in the heart of Downtown were put on the back burner.

That has left a hole on historic Main Street, with no clear timeline for filling it.

Not only is financing a project difficult — even when the land cost nothing — but Salt Lake City’s Downtown market has quickly become much less favorable for investors due to a rush of new supply for renters to choose from.

“We do not have any new updates at this time,” Hines said in a statement. “We continue to dedicate significant time and resources to ensure the success of this project.”

The only thing built at the site of the former Utah Theater is a wall blocking the hole in the ground where the building once stood.
Hines is supposed to build a new high-rise with hundreds of apartments and a privately owned park on top of a parking garage. It received the site for $0 from Salt Lake City.

The Aster

This pair of mixed-income buildings represents a triumph of good planning and the payoff that patience can bring.

After years of delays, developers wrapped up the two buildings that make up The Aster (not to be confused with the Astra half a block away). Construction has been completed for months, but it’s worth taking a look at what makes this project so welcome Downtown.

Rather than one hulking mass along State Street, city plans called for two separate buildings, which allowed for a mid-block walkway that now connects the budding Edison Street with Gallivan Center and the core of Downtown.

Residents we spoke with said they enjoyed the building’s location, design and cost, as Salt Lake City worked with Brinshore development to deliver units that cost as low as $301 per month.

Looking west from the eastern side of the paseo a view with a terminating vista anchored by the Wells Fargo building.

The Aster viewed from Gallivan Avenue on the west side of State Street Downtown, looking east.

Wells Fargo Center acts as a terminating vista down a new paseo at 255 State, past Gallivan Ave Downtown.

The West Quarter

Another building that gives a window into what Salt Lake City’s plans for more midblock walkways throughout Downtown can look like, the West Quarter has begun taking shape.

A residential mid-rise anchors the intersection at 100 S. 300 W. and offers a chance at fine dining with STK on the corner. Two hotels sit within one building south of a midblock walkway and were bustling with activity as Salt Lake City played host to Round 1 of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

Architects paid attention to what the ground floor could offer the passing public, adding ornamenting and details that other developers are quick to skip in Salt Lake City.

The Ritchie Group has plans to continue developing the West Quarter, though the timeline is uncertain. The developer demolished the old post office at 200 S. West Temple, but moved to create a DIY surface parking lot. With projects difficult to pencil amid a high interest rate environment, it’s not clear how long the city might wait before a planned office tower and residential building are built.

The Charles, left, Le Meridien hotel and Element hotel in the West Quarter.
The West Quarter includes ground-floor details often skipped by developers at other projects in Salt Lake City.
The West Quarter includes plans for more housing and office space. For now, the former post office is a DIY parking lot.

West Downtown

As Salt Lake City’s zoning tapers off height moving away from the core of Downtown, builders have been working to add short and mid-rise apartments that are beefing up the density on the west side of Downtown.

A handful of other apartment buildings are wrapping up and preparing to lease up in the area south and west of the Gateway.

Cinq preserved a portion of the facade of the historic structure near 600 W. 200 S.
The sprawling Alta Stone apartments at 100 S. 600 W.
The Zephyr Lofts apartments along 200 South.
A look west along 200 South from 400 West shows the corridor tapering off from height Downtown.

Paperbox Lofts

This project has been finished for months, but it was included in this roundup to show how not to build a mid-block walkway.

Far from being pedestrian-friendly, the pass-through between 300 West and 400 West is designed entirely as a driveway and not a place for people to walk. The same is true on the building’s south end.

With more mid-block connections on the way, it’s important to learn what to do (see above) and what not to do (see below).

Pedestrians are an afterthought at the mid-block crossing at the Paperbox Lofts.
People walking or rolling through this mid-block walkway will run into a stairway.

Sidewalk closures

Salt Lake City’s existing policies around how to handle all this construction activity have been called into question in recent years. The city has decided that people walking or rolling around town should learn to navigate a drastically severed pedestrian grid rather than enact and enforce policies that provide access amid construction.

The city’s engineering team within the department of Communities and Neighborhoods (CAN) is allowing builders to close sidewalks and bike lanes throughout the city so that they can store their construction equipment on public space and without the requirement to maintain ground-level access.

Builders neglect to place even basic signage alerting pedestrians of an upcoming closure, leaving Downtown travelers to decide whether to double back and add time to their commutes or hop into the road and risk it.

Salt Lake City’s ongoing policy failure on display along 200 South near 400 West.
A sidewalk in the Central City neighborhood is blocked improperly and without adequate notice at any nearby crossings.

Email Taylor Anderson

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Posted by Taylor Anderson

Taylor Anderson grew up near Chicago and made his way West to study journalism at the University of Montana. He's been a staff writer for the Chicago Tribune, Bend Bulletin and Salt Lake Tribune. A move from Portland, Oregon, to Salt Lake City opened his eyes to the importance of good urban design for building strong neighborhoods. He lives on the border of the Liberty Wells and Ballpark neighborhoods.