Latest apartment pitch near Trolley would continue 400 South corridor buildout

A pair of developments seeks to continue the transformation of office buildings into housing near Trolley Square, while taking advantage of high-density zoning near the TRAX line on 400 South.

The latest proposal would replace a home goods store at 424 S. 700 E. with 249 residences in a six-story building known as a five-over-one, or apartments above primarily parking on the ground floor.

The developers believe they meet enough of the requirements in the zoning code to allow them to get to work quickly, and they’ve already moved to pull a demolition permit for the existing building.

The building being replaced is in the Central City Historic District, but isn’t considered a contributing structure. That means it can be torn down with a slightly straightforward process.

Together with the proposed luxury student housing immediately to the south, the area north of Trolley Square could see the addition of nearly 500 more residences and more than 900 bedrooms once both projects are completed.

That’s in addition to hundreds of other residences that have been recently completed within a block in either direction of the site, and thousands more along 400 South. 

Directly across 700 East from the latest proposed development, another 267 residential units were added in recent years in Liberty Boulevard. To the west, on 500 South and on the same block as the newest proposal, another 135 rental dwellings at Liberty Square were recently finished.

Latest apartment project

About half of the units in the new 700 East building would be one-bedrooms. About one-third would be studios, and the rest a mix of two- and three-bedrooms.

A nod to its proximity to transit, the new project would provide 196 off-street parking stalls, or 0.77 parking spaces for each unit. The parking areas are largely hidden from street view and within the building. Rather than having public space like retail on the ground floor, the building’s live-work units and lobby/leasing space will front 700 East and 400 South. 

The development is being led by Wright Development Group, which built a similar all-residential project known as Block 44 at 400 S. 400 E., as well as a handful of suburban style retail and office buildings along the Wasatch Front.

There are many complaints about the style of five-over-one, single-use residential construction that now lines much of 400 South in this area. 

But one thing is clear: The city has accomplished what it sought to do when rezoning the immediate area within walking distance of transit with zoning that allows high density homes that have attracted renters.

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Project Details

  • Studio: 75 (550 average square feet)
  • One-Bed: 124 (680 average square feet)
  • Two-Bed: 29 (1,120 average square feet)
  • Three-Bed: 14 (1,380 average square feet) 
  • Live/Work: 7 (810 average square feet)
  • Total: 249

Construction Details 

  • Developer: Wright Development Group
  • Architect: Envision Architectural Group

Scene on the street

The new buildings in the area are examples of land use that feels slightly mismatched with the streets the new buildings are erected on.

Like most new housing along the 400 South corridor, the 700 East apartments will overlook a state-owned surface highway. SR-71, also known as 700 East, provides vehicles nine lanes of space.

For its part, 400 South is also known as SR-186 and has seven lanes of high-speed car traffic on its way up to the University of Utah before turning into Foothill Drive and merging with the interstate near the city’s southeast corner.

But that surface highway provides space for transit to popular destinations, job centers, the university and Downtown. 

Despite the street arrangement in the immediate area, it is rich with destinations that make it among the more walkable neighborhoods in Salt Lake City.

Under Transit Station Area (TSA) zoning rules, projects are given scores for meeting a variety of tiered guidelines like adding density near transit, replacing nonconforming buildings and providing bicycle storage.

Developers go through a checklist and self-assess their own compliance with the guidelines. That is then reviewed and revised by staff in the city’s Planning Division. Projects with more than 125 points on the checklist as determined by staff can skip an appearance before the Planning Commission, a process that could add months to the development process.

Wright Development believes the building has 177 points. Staff will review.

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Posted by Taylor Anderson

Taylor Anderson grew up near Chicago and made his way West to study journalism at the University of Montana. He's been a staff writer for the Chicago Tribune, Bend Bulletin and Salt Lake Tribune. A move from Portland, Oregon, to Salt Lake City opened his eyes to the importance of good urban design for building strong neighborhoods. He lives on the border of the Liberty Wells and Ballpark neighborhoods.