Following the Road Home’s departure, Salt Lake City’s Depot District is taking off

Salt Lake City’s Depot District continues to attract residential developments in a rapid housing shift west of Downtown in the years after the state intervened, dispersing a market for street drugs and evicting the city’s main homeless shelter from the neighborhood.

The area immediately surrounding The Road Home — which the state demolished before offering for sale — has attracted quick interest among developers proposing mixed-use projects in one of the most transit-dense neighborhoods of the city.

Several projects in the Depot District are underway or at various stages in the approval process, with the result being an impending arrival of residents and possibly businesses to one of the city’s redevelopment areas that had been awaiting a catalyst.

To help spur growth, the city prioritized a review of building heights across Downtown after a developer held off on a project in the neighborhood, saying existing zoning didn’t allow the height his client was looking for.

Other projects are quickly moving ahead, and multiple public and private entities remain fixated in what this underdeveloped part of town could look like in the next five years.

Here are projects and locations that could have a transformative impact on Salt Lake City’s Depot District.

Central Station apartments are under construction today. The 65 new rental units will ensure that, as the Depot District rapidly develops, it will include at least some affordable housing. Rendering courtesy of Salt Lake City Planning Division.
Keeping affordability in the Depot

The Central Station project is ensuring that there will be space for affordable housing in this developing area.

The project has been under construction for several months and will include 65 units — most of them affordable — in a six-story building, according to a rendering submitted to the city in March.

It received planning commission approval last year and funding to help balance the affordable units.

The project will supply 34 parking stalls at ground level in its concrete podium, hidden from the street by common rooms for tenants and their leasing office.

While it’s under construction, there appears to be a dispute between Central Station and its neighbor to the east, Bridge Projects, over the city’s interpretation of who has rights to Woodbine Street (535 West). Officials from the city couldn’t immediately comment on the nature of the easement dispute.

The Greenprint Gateway would bring 150 micro and studio apartments for rent at the northeast corner of 200 S. 600 W. in Salt Lake City’s Depot District. Rendering courtesy of Salt Lake City Planning Division.
150 new micro and studio apartments

The Greenprint Gateway would bring a new six-story building with 150 micro and studio apartments for rent on the northeast corner of 200 S. + 600 W.

It would include ground-floor retail or office space and would be oriented toward 200 South.

It would replace a parking lot and car repair shop.

That’s a density of 254 units per acre within a very short walk of a TRAX and FrontRunner station. (The project would include 38 parking stalls, 19 surface and accessed off 600 West and 19 within the podium structure.) 

“Given its proximity to the Old Greek Town Trax Station and the Gateway commercial development, we believe that this design will not only meet the City’s vision for this district but will also enhance the area by adding a walkable, transit-oriented, multi-family option for City residents,” the developer wrote.

The project is awaiting action by the Planning Commission.

The Road Home is for sale

The lot still hasn’t publicly changed hands after the state did a future developer the favor of demolishing the old homeless shelter.

Still, at $5 million assessed value in a Downtown zone, it will be a high-value project that replaces the former shelter.

It’s been an open secret that many developers have been waiting on the shelter to be moved before committing to the area.

For more than a decade the Salt Lake City Redevelopment Agency (RDA) has failed to attract developers to its acres of “Station Center” properties along 300 South between 500 and 600 West — long planned as a “festival street” and an extension of the Rio Grande depot.

But two years after an intervention by the city, county and state law enforcement, talks are continuing in earnest.

A map showing Station Center and the various publicly owned parcels within the Depot District. Image courtesy of Salt Lake City Redevelopment Agency.
SLC RDA, UTA and Station Center

Things are moving on the Redevelopment Agency’s land within the Depot District, known as Station Center, Salt Lake City officials say.

RDA staff told the City Council in March the agency “has ended all former partnerships with entities for development of certain Station Center sites. We have no existing commitments to anyone in the development area. We are moving forward with the intent to market all of the properties to a master developer or team of developers through [an] RFQ/RFP process.”

Mayor Mendenhall mentioned the Station Center properties and a Transit Reinvestment Zone (TRZ) in the Depot District in an interview with Utah Business magazine.

The RDA is working on its own with its Station Center 300 South properties.

But its properties between 100 South and the UP railroad tracks at 600 and 700 West are significant and part of a collaboration with the Utah Transit Authority.

UTA, for its part, confirmed that it is exploring a potential TRZ, which is both a transportation and taxing entity, with Salt Lake City.

Paul Drake, UTA’s Director of Real Estate and TOD, told Building Salt Lake that future development of properties at the North Temple bridge, the bus depot at the northwest corner of 200 South and 600 West, and at the current Intermodal Hub/Central Station at 600 West and 300 South will proceed according the the 2019 Central Station Area Plan.

That plan was a collaboration between multiple local, county and state agencies, and funded by Wasatch Front Regional Council, the region’s planning agency.

Those developments are at least five years out, Drake said, noting they could be accelerated.

Building height restrictions in Downtown Salt Lake City

When asked about recent noise to raise building heights in the Depot, Drake and Board Trustee Beth Holbrook told Building Salt Lake that UTA is “listening to and interested in those discussions.”

The discussion around height restrictions throughout Downtown Salt Lake City flared up recently when a developer said a tech company wanted to build its new headquarters in the Depot District but backed out because height restrictions are too low.

The council largely agreed that it should let developers go taller and set out to conduct a study of appropriate building heights throughout Downtown.

The RDA is also watching the height discussion closely.

“It is the RDA’s understanding that additional height would assist in the implementation of the Salt Lake Central Station Area Plan and UTA’s vision for UTA-owned property west of 600 West between 200 – 300 South,” SLC RDA’s communications director Amanda Greenland told us.

Luke Garrott contributed to this story.

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.