HLC approves Marmalade mixed-use project

Rendering of the southwest corner of the Marmalade mixed-use project. Image courtesy Salt Lake City planning documents.

It’s been over a decade since the Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake announced plans for the redevelopment of the Marmalade Block, the 500 North block of 300 West.  But after surviving a recession, updated plans and finding new developers, the final piece of the of Marmalade Block development cleared a final administrative hurdle.

On Thursday, March 16, the Historic Landmark Commission approved a new construction and special exception request by developer Clearwater Homes for the Marmalade mixed-use development, a 265-289 unit mixed-use project proposed for the northwest corner of the Marmalade Block.  The units will be a mix of studio, one and two bedroom apartments.

“We want to make a notable multifamily project that really stood out,” said Micah Peters, CEO of Clearwater Homes.

The project consists of three buildings above a shared two-story podium.  The two large buildings will be five stories above the podium level and will be u-shaped each with an interior residential courtyard.  The development also includes two pedestrian plazas that will connect 300 West to a rear walkway and mid-block city-owned public plaza.

Aerial rendering of the southeast corner of the Marmalade mixed-use project. Image courtesy Salt Lake City planning documents.

The developers met with the HLC for a work session in February.  During that meeting, planning staff and HLC members expressed concerns about the requested rear-yard setback reduction at the north side of the building from 30 feet to 23 feet.  The developers argue that the rear yard encroachment was needed to allow for the proper circulation for parking in the podium to allow for a one to one parking ratio.

During Thursday’s meeting, planning staff suggested approving the reduced setback at the podium level but have the five wood-framed levels meet the setback requirement.

Peters argued that without the special exception, the development would lose about 40 units and 40 parking spaces.  The developer stated that the breaking up of the buildings with the plazas creates an openness and avoids the canyon effect, but results in a loss of units and the reduced setback helps the developers recapture some of those units lost to the plaza space.

The project will include 13 two-story live/work units that will separate the parking from the street.  The live/work units will front 300 West and will be designed to allow for tenants to use the space as either residential, commercial or a mix of both.

The marmalade project will include to commercial spaces at the project’s north and south corners along 300 West.  According to Peters, the commercial spaces will be designed to accommodate a restaurant or deli.  The south corner commercial space will include an outdoor dining area on the small plaza that will separate the project from the library.

In both the work session and formal meeting, several commission members voiced concern with the potential impact the project’s height would have on the adjacent homes and a historically contributing single-family home directly east of the development on 600 North.

While residents seemed eager to see the long-vacant parcels developed, the majority of the comments from residents during the public hearing portion focused on parking concerns, building height and proposed commercial space.  Many argued that parking is already insufficient, referencing limited parking at the library.

Peters told commission members that his team is working with Howa Group, the owners of the commercial area across directly west of the project site on 300 West, to reserve the commercial area’s unused parking spaces for overflow parking if needed.

The RDA selected the Howa Group a decade ago to develop the Marmalade block, but their plans fell apart during the recession and after the developers couldn’t secure financing the RDA canceled their agreement with Howa.  The developers built serval one-story commercial buildings on the west side of 300 West but all but one of those spaces is occupied, the remaining spaces, save a Subway that is now closed, have been vacant since they opened over five years ago.

The project was designed by Blalock Partners, the same architects of the adjacent Marmalade Branch library directly south of the proposed development.  Clearwater’s project is one of three developments in the Marmalade Block redevelopment that will be oriented toward the park at the center of the block.  In addition to the library to the south, construction will soon commence on The Grove, a 12-unit townhome project directly east of the library.

“We’ve tried very hard to ensure that there is connectivity at multiple points to the park and the library,” said Edward Butterfield, senior project manager at the RDA.

The city-owned park will have pedestrian access points from 600 North, 300 West, 500 North and the Capital Villa Apartments to the east.

Aerial rendering of the southwest corner of the Marmalade mixed-use project. Image courtesy Salt Lake City planning documents.

Posted by Isaac Riddle

Isaac Riddle grew up just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. He has a BA in English literature from the University of Utah and a Masters of Journalism from Temple University. Isaac has written for Next City, The Philadelphia Public School Notebook and Salt Lake City Weekly. Before embarking on a career in journalism, Isaac taught High School English in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. Isaac is the founder of Building Salt Lake and can be reached at isaac@buildingsaltlake.com.