Ken Garff Dealership getting a facelift

The proposed site plan for the Ken Garff Dealership. Image courtesy Salt Lake City Planning Division.
The proposed site plan for the Ken Garff Dealership. Image courtesy Salt Lake City Planning Division.

Salt Lake’s downtown car dealership is getting an update.  Construction has started on a redesigned Ken Garff dealership on the 500 South block of State Street.  The new design will consolidate the different dealerships into one large complex with multiple showrooms.

The Salt Lake City Planning Commission approved the planned development in May of 2015.  Although Ken Garff dealerships occupy most of the block, the development consisted of several lots that Ken Garff had accumulated over time with planning staff just recently approving a lot consolidation request. Previously, Ken Garff had to apply for incremental planned development approvals every time one dealership expanded lot lines into another.  The consolidated parcels will allow Ken Garff to expand accordingly under one planned development approval.

The renovations include the demolition of two buildings.  The service center has already been demolished will be replaced with two-story operations and storage facility.  The former Mitsubishi sales building will be demolished and replaced with a new building.  The renovations will reduce the amount of surface parking with three new sales buildings that will be built directly north of new storage and operations facility.  Interior landscaping will break up some of the surface parking.  The new sales buildings will have similar setbacks as the Fiat sales office that will remain intact.

While, overall surface parking will be reduced, there will still be surface parking fronting 500 South.   The setback of the new sales facilities will leave room for a row of cars separating the sidewalk from the buildings.  Currently only the sales buildings on State Street are built up to the sidewalk.

The Ken Garff block is in an unusual location for a car dealership.  The block is in a growing urban corridor, in the downtown periphery directly across the street from the historic City and County Building and the Grand America, a 24-story luxury hotel.   The project is also adjacent to the Salt Lake City Main Library and the Leonardo museum.

The Ken Garff blocks breaks up the energy of 500 South with rows of surface parking and no street engagement, even as the density and walkability of the area surrounding the dealership is growing with projects like the 616 Lofts, a mixed-use development under construction at 600 South block of State Street.  The Ken Garff renovations douse any hope of a more urban-friendly development being built there as Ken Garff appears to plan to stay in this location for years to come.

The new sales facilities will have similar setbacks off of 500 South as the Fiat facility pictured. Photo by Isaac Riddle.
The new sales facilities will have similar setbacks off of 500 South as the Fiat facility pictured. Photo by Isaac Riddle.

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.