Downtown warehouse district continues its transformation with Zephyr Lofts mixed-use project

Clearwater Homes of Utah and Watt Investment Partners of Santa Monica, CA, will start construction in late summer on a 138-unit market-rate apartment project at 360 West 200 South in the heart of Salt Lake City’s warehouse district.

The project aspires to be “iconic, remarkable, and aesthetically enduring” – “a source of pride for the local community” according to the local developer, Clearwater’s Micah Peters.

Peters has developed Paragon Station on the same block, and also is under construction with the Paperbox project with PEG Development just behind the Zephyr Lofts site.

Paperbox foundation currently being laid, just to the north of the Zephyr site, left. Looking west to Dakota Lofts, center left, and Gateway Mall in the background. Photo by Luke Garrott.
Paperbox Lofts as they front 300 West. Photo by Luke Garrott.

On the block adjacent to the east, locals the Ritchie Group have begun digging on the first phase of their massive 6.45 acre residential-hospitality-retail project on Block 67 called the West Quarter.

With the Gateway and Depot District immediately to the west, this area of Downtown may yet regain a vitality that it lost in the “slum-clearance” days of the 1950s and 60s.

The Zephyr Lofts

The name “is homage to the depot district and the historic Zephyr engine/line that steamed into Salt Lake City on the Union Pacific rails,” Developer Micah Peters told Building Salt Lake.

Infilling surface parking lots between the historic Westgate Lofts on the east and the Dakota Lofts on the West, The Zephyr will rise eight stories to 85 ft. Sitting on D-4 zoning, the developers have entered the design review process in order to exceed the zone’s nominal 75 ft height maximum.

“Pool view, at night,” courtesy VCBO Architects and Clearwater.

The Zephyr’s 138 units will be a combination of 70 studio, 55 one-bedroom, and 13 two-bedroom apartments.

It’ll be parked at a 1:1 ratio (140 stalls), with the upper floor of the podium parking incorporating 3 car city parking stackers.

Rendering of the Zephyr frontage looking west, towards Gateway and the Depot District. Image courtesy VCBO Architects and Clearwater.

Street frontage will consist of gyms, a leasing office, and a small bar/restaurant space. Clearwater’s Peters says he’s in conversations with a local artisan operator that has several food + beverage businesses in the neighborhood. The retail space offers 1800 sf and a 20-seat outdoor patio.

It will provide a public walkway from 200 South to the midblock right-of-way that skirts the Paperbox development. Both were conditions imposed by the city’s master plan and its Redevelopment Agency, most recent owners of the Paperbox parcel.

The block + neighborhood

This stretch of 200 South, between Main Street and 300 West, has been an urban energy vacuum of surface parking lots and institutional-scale architecture for decades. 

Zephyr site in blue, Paperbox in green, and West Quarter in pink, approximately. Jazz NBA arena at top (north), Gateway to the left. Image courtesy Google Earth/Luke Garrott.
Same view, current conditions from the air at the Paperbox, Zephyr, and West Quarter sites. Photo by Luke Garrott.

Its working-class, mainly immigrant neighborhoods were demolished in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s for institutional-scale uses like the Salt Palace convention center, the Downtown post office, and the Utah Jazz arena.

With only a sprinkling of office units and a few residential and hotel uses, a new neighborhood never sparked to life here. Traces of Japan Town and Greek Town barely remain.

Paperbox partners: Clearwater, PEG, Rimrock construction, VCBO Architecture, and the SLC RDA. Photo by Luke Garrott.

Proximity to Pioneer Park, an open market for street drugs, and multiple service providers for the homeless population didn’t help attract investment to the area.

The tide – very gradually – seems to have turned. With the city’s Redevelopment Agency helping pioneers like Artspace, early investments in the Pioneer Park neighborhood and the Depot District haven’t found themselves stranded.

Posted by Luke Garrott

Luke Garrott, PhD, has published in The Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News, and written features for the Salt Lake City Weekly City Guide and The West View. A former two-term councilman in Salt Lake City's District 4, he lives in Downtown Salt Lake City and grew up in the Chicago area.