Here’s the gentle density coming to the upper Avenues—Capitol Park Cottages ready for final planning review

It’s been over three years since Ivory homes requested a master plan amendment and an upzone for a 3.2-acre vacant lot at F Street and 13th Avenue.

The City Council approved those changes in December, 2022. Currently, the developer’s Planned Development proposal is open for comment on its way to the Planning Commission.

Let’s take a look at the project’s evolution, including the most recent proposal, which is seeking the city’s final approval before plans for building permits are reviewed.

The project’s evolution

The original request was to change the old zoning, FR-3/12,000 (Foothills Residential District), to the city’s least-intensive form-based zone, FB-UN-1. That upzone would have allowed 25 detached structures on the 3.2 acres, whereas, with a minimum lot size of 12,000 square feet, FR-3/12,000 limited builders to 11 single-family homes.

In response to opposition in the neighborhood, Ivory scaled back their request and aimed for SR-1 (Special Development Pattern) zoning, which is amenable to the Planned Development process.

Initial site plan, left; current plan, right. Images courtesy Woodley Architectural Group and Urban Design Associates, respectively.

Ivory’s next site plan showed 19 structures, a handful of them duplexes. All had ADUs attached. Before winning their master plan and zoning changes, Ivory withdrew their initial Planned Development application 18 months ago, according to their latest materials.

Reflecting on their process so far, Ivory most recently states “as we pursued our previous re-zone and master plan amendment application, we heard from Planning Commission and City Council members that this site needs more units.”

Their new land planning consultants, Urban Design Associates (UDA) were tasked “to reimagine our development patterns to increase density, reduce or remove retaining walls, and bring [in] more ‘Avenues’ architectural styles.”

According to their understanding, the developers were asked to reproduce precedents set by the surrounding neighborhoods: “housing-type variety, owner/renter mix and cohesion, family-structure diversity, and eclectic architecture.”

Newest designs

Plans have gone from 19 buildings to 15. Seven of those structures, with their internal ADUs, will effectively be four-plexes. UDA has provided designs for seven different building types.

The new site plan shows 21 main units plus 21 internal ADUs (42 total). Seven of those primary units are single-family detached and 14 are twin homes or duplexes. On the assemblage’s 3.2 acres, that’s 13 units per acre. Anything under 20 units per acre is generally considered low density.

Images courtesy Urban Design Associates.

Off-street parking is copious. Designers have included 45 spaces in garages, and 37 surface spots. 82 stalls for 42 units is essentially a 2:1 ratio.

The developer extols the site plan’s commitment to “an entire acre of community park with a ¼ mile recreational trail system.”

Where that entire acre is located is not immediately apparent from the site plan.

Another look at the site plan. Courtesy UDA.

Planning Director Nick Norris told us that a condition set by the City Council in approving the rezone requires the creation of park space along Capitol Park Avenue or F Street, and “that the park space be ‘generally be accessible to the community at large, with rules/management to be established by the HOA or other entity based upon the applicant’s preference’.”

The latest site plan shows a small area on the southeast corner of the property that could be construed as a park. In addition, there is a path following the site’s perimeter and bisecting it north-south, what the developer is calling “a ¼ mile recreational trail system.”

Whether that trail will be accessible to the public will be determined by the Planning Commission.

Norris noted that developers are not required to provide sidewalks along private streets (in this case Northpointe Drive and Capitol Park Avenue), but that Planned Development review will necessarily apply internal circulation standards to the project.

The Planning Division’s “open house” on the project began July 10 and will close August 25.

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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.