HLC reviews Marmalade block project

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

In what appears to be the new normal, the Historic Landmark Commission held a work session Thursday, February 2 with Clearwater Homes to discuss the developer’s plans for a large mixed-used development for the 500 North block of 300 West in the Marmalade neighborhood.

The Clearwater development is part of the Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake’s Marmalade block project that includes the Marmalade Branch library, a public park, proposed townhomes to the east of the library and  Clearwater’s mixed-use development.  Because the proposed project is the Capitol Hill Historic District, the developers will need new construction approval from the Historic Landmark Commission before construction can begin.

The mixed-use project will consist of three connected buildings above a parking platform.  The two northernmost buildings will be five stories and the building to the south will be five stories.  The project will include between 260-285 residential units that will be a mix of studio and one and two-bedroom apartments.  Two anchor commercial spaces and ground floor live/work units will separate the parking structure from the street.

The developers are reserving the southwest corner of the building, opposite the Marmalade Branch, for a small restaurant.  The restaurant space will be around 2,400 square feet, but according to Micah Peters from Clearwater Homes, the restaurant could double the seating space with outdoor dining on the plaza separating the project from the library.  Peters told the HLC that he is in talks with the LaSalle Group to open an Italian restaurant in the space and consulted the restauranteurs when planning the space.

The building’s northwest corner at the 600 North and 300 West intersection will be reserved for a deli or cafe.  The developers are pursuing a small deli grocer in the vein of Liberty Heights Fresh.

Several commission members questioned the proposed footprint size of the live/work spaces, expressing concern that the spaces weren’t large enough.  Peters referenced the sold-out live/work units in the Broadway Park Lofts, another Clearwater Homes project, as evidence of the demand for smaller scale live/work units.

According to Kevin Blalock, the size of the proposed live/work units is to provide for flexibility for tenants to either use the ground floor for living space, work space or boutique commercial space.

Peters told the HLC that to avoid the canyon effect, the project includes a 30-foot-wide plaza separating the two five-story buildings that will provide another pedestrian connection to the park directly east of the project.  The project will also have a pedestrian walkway at the rear of the building on the east side that will provide another pedestrian connection from 600 North to the public park and the Marmalade Branch to the south.

The project’s walkway and plaza will be privately owned and maintained by Clearwater Homes but will be open to the public.

“We really wanted the park to be a central theme to the neighborhood,” said Peters.  “We didn’t want our project to become a shade or obstruction to this amenity.”

Clearwater is only requesting one zoning variance, a reduced rear yard setback request for a portion of the project.  Peters argued that the variance is needed to accommodate parking, which under the project’s design guidelines with the RDA, must be completely hidden from view in a parking structure.  As proposed, the project will have a 1:1 parking ratio.  Peters told that HLC that market studies suggest that at least 21 of the studio units would go to carless households which could free up second stalls for some of the two bedroom units.

Peters referenced the light boxes as a unique architecture feature.   The light boxes will open up to 300 West and provide natural light to the interior by penetrating through the entire building.

In general, commission members appeared to view the proposal favorably.   One concern was the building’s height in relation to the single family home to the north on 600 North.  But several members explained the height contrast as inevitable given the fact that project’s zoning allows for heights up to 75 feet.

Peters told the HLC that the home, built in 1896, is currently for sale and could be restored but his team didn’t find the renovation of the home financially viable.

Clearwater is one of the several developers in the past year to participate in a work session with the HLC to go over project details in preparation for a formal hearing at a later date.  Since October of 2015, developers of four other projects have participated in a work session with the HLC, the Hardison Apartments, the Liberty Square Apartments, a multifamily project on 900 East and the Trolley Square redevelopment.  The HLC has approved each project that returned for a formal hearing after a work session.

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