Form-based zoning request dropped in upper Avenues. Developers press forward with similar proposal

After massive neighborhood mobilization in opposition, Ivory Homes has abandoned its attempt at a form-based upzone for a large vacant parcel at 13th Ave and F Street in Salt Lake City’s upper Avenues. 

Does that mean neighborhood opposition has won? Not quite.

Photos by Luke Garrott

The parcel behind the iconic former veterans’ hospital (now the Meridian condos) at the crest of the lower Avenues, is zoned Foothills Residential FR-3 and allows 11 homes, each with a possible ADU (as do all Salt Lake City single-family zones).

The former veterans’ hospital, now Meridian luxury condos. Photo by Luke Garrott.

Ivory’s original site plan under FB-UN-1 proposed 25 structures (10.9 units/acre). The latest proposes 20 (8.75 units/acre), removes a driveway, adds a sidewalk and a park along its southern border (Capitol Park Ave), augments yard space, and limits height.

“We’re not interested in micro-managing the details of this development,” Jan McKinnon of Preserve Our Avenues Zoning, told Building Salt Lake. “The new plan also doesn’t work for this neighborhood. It doesn’t make sense here. It’s not anywhere near acceptable.”

Ivory, for its part, is confident that the city will approve its new request to upzone to Special Development Pattern SR-1, a zone that allows single-family detached, twin, and two-family structures. 

The development’s 20 structures are all intended to be single-family detached, which carries a 5000 sf minimum lot size requirement under SR-1. 15 of the 4-bdrm homes will have attached ADUs. There are also five “custom homes” fronting F street, expected to price in excess of $1 million.

Ivory has recently been asserting a leadership role in promoting market-based affordable housing solutions, establishing a nationwide award for affordable housing innovation and heavily promoting ADUs in Utah.

Its zoning change proposal extols the values of infill and ADUs to address Utah’s housing crisis.

Images courtesy Woodley Architectural Group.

Nigel Swaby, an Ivory representative on the project, presented to the Avenues community council and believes that the opposition’s arguments against density are disingenuous. 

“It’s funny, because the biggest opposition is from the densest projects,” he asserts, pointing toward the Meridian. “Infill projects are adding to the city’s housing stock and are supported in the city’s housing plan.”

The latest site plan from the developer. It conforms to SR-1 zoning, with a minimum 5000 sf lot requirement. Image courtesy Woodley Architectural Group.

Opposition is based in taste, he told us in so many words. “Ivory Homes is a production builder, and the Avenues is a special place. Capitol Park is a very special place, and they don’t want production builders.”

Yet local opposition isn’t likely to carry the day, Swaby predicts. “The city council is going to pass this. Ivory has worked closely with the city from the beginning, and planning staff knows about the opposition in the neighborhood and thought that this would be an easier zone for them to support.”

The city planner on the project did not immediately respond to our inquiries. The public comment period on the proposal has been extended and is still open. The petition is likely to surface at the Planning Commission later this year.

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.