Hotel project seeks zoning change to replace surface parking lot on east Broadway

Proposing to fill a void in the streetscape of east Broadway in the heart of Downtown, local property owners have applied for an upzone to D-1 that would allow them to build a “neighborhood boutique hotel” on a narrow, deep lot at 256 E. 300 South.

At streetfront, the site is adjacent to another surface parking lot to the east, which would remain. But the stakes for the urban fabric are high. The 330-foot deep development includes a mid-block walkway, but that passageway is designed interior to the hotel, sharing space with cars and busses.

Since a public right-of-way already exists on the south part of the block for the new walkway to connect to, the opportunity is prime to create a quality public pedestrian way between 300 and 400 South on a key Downtown block–that links directly to a TRAX station.

Enriching the challenge for Salt Lake City planners, the proposed hotel is adjacent to another project on Block 54 that is currently in the open house public comment period. 

Overland on Third, at 336 S. 300 East, which passed its first round at the Planning Commission for a height increase, is back at City Hall for planned development approval. Its request for an elimination of its required 30-foot rear setback will impact the immediately-adjacent proposed hotel. 

Let’s take a look at the plans and what’s at stake for the public. 

Project outline

Owners of the parking lot at 256 E. 300 South are the same owners of the historic Roosevelt Apartments that burned on the site in 1991. 

The Roosevelt was one of Downtown’s largest apartment buildings at the time, with 48 units for rent. The catastrophic fire displaced 80 people, according to the Salt Lake Tribune, and the building was demolished.

Architect Emily Nelson of Fourier Architects told us redevelopment on the site was first planned with condos, then apartments, and now a hotel. 

256 E. Broadway is the lot to the right. Image courtesy Google.

Applicants are asking for a rezone on the .62-acre site, which is narrow and long (82’ x 330’) from R-MU Residential Mixed Use to D-1, the city’s most urban zoning. 

R-MU limits building height for non-residential projects to 45 feet. Hotel uses are not permitted in R-MU, and bars are a conditional use. 

The plans for the hotel include:

  • Outdoor public plazas on the north and south
  • Two restaurants and two bars
  • Two-story rooftop with a bar and event spaces open to the public; and a pool, spa, fitness center for guests
  • 4400 SF art gallery space
  • Two ballrooms and three banquet halls
  • Ground-floor retail featuring a bakery cafe
  • 3 levels of automated parking storage

Images courtesy Fourier Architects

The parking garage will offer 262 stalls in a 3-level below-ground automated system by Westfalia Parking Solutions. Given the narrowness of the lot, Architect Nelson told us that “we tried parking it out with ramps, but it’s too narrow without automated parking.”

Cars will not be stacked, but parked in stalls as in a normal garage. Sleds pick up vehicles and port them into elevators that exit at the ground floor. The building’s parking pickup area also includes a pickup and drop-off area for buses within the hotel structure. 

Mid-block walkway?

That is also the area designated for the mid-block walkway. It is unclear where the walkway fits in with cars and buses in the floorplans submitted.

Designer Nelson told us that the walkway is not being required by the city. “It’s something we chose to provide because it connects us well, takes advantage of having Moffat Court going halfway. These kinds of connections should be provided in Salt Lake City, but it is a benefit to our project. We want a strong connection especially to Library TRAX Station and 400 South.” 

A public right-of-way exists at 255 E. (Moffat Court) that runs from 400 South to the middle of the block. A remaining single-family home built in 1905 is a lone reminder of the residential past of Moffat. 

The origin and terminus of Moffat Court. Images courtesy Google.

Project plans cite a “through-block pedestrian arcade,” which will be indoor, surface-level, and “accessible to the public.” Nelson told us the current proposal is for the walkway to be open during business hours, which at a hotel are long–but not 24/7.

The number of floors is also unclear in the project’s drawings. The building will be at least 10 stories high, with a 171-foot height at its highest parapet wall.

It is called the “Wade Building” at present, after its owners. The hotel partners, who will ultimately control the building’s name, are requesting anonymity until closing. 

Nelson said the hotelier’s “brand concept depends on us pulling our neighbors in. This brand is marketed to people who want interactions with locals when they travel so they feel they’ve really been to a place.”

Urgent application

When asked if she had any renderings for the hotel that were less massing and more detail, Nelson told us that their application had been rushed for submission and there wasn’t time to develop external design detail. 

“We are rushing this to kind of contest the Overland on Third proposal to have a zero-foot setback.”

Nelson clarified that “I am generally happy about the Overland project. We want high density in the neighborhood immediately around us and we hope it can go forward quickly, with only the one change.”

Blue=Moffat Court, Orange=Overland on Third, Green=Wade hotel. Library TRAX station, bottom; 300 South (Broadway) top.

Like the 256 E. 300 South hotel parcel, the Overland project sits on R-MU zoning. It has submitted a planned development application currently in Open House comment period to move private open space from the ground floor to its amenity deck, and remove the rear 30-foot required setback. That would press its parking garage up against the hotel structure.

Regardless of the outcome of Overland’s application, any hope for a welcoming, intuitive, and functional mid-block walkway passing north-south through the block seems minimal. 

“I would like to see a completely outdoor walkthrough on the east side by the neighbors,” Nelson said.

But the current footprints of the two projects, soon to become neighbors, don’t account for it.

​​Email Luke Garrott

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.