Neighbors worry about added parking woes from proposed development

Salt Lake City leaders should be prepared to face resistance from neighbors as more projects are developed under the new guidelines for the Transit Station Area Zoning District.   For many Salt Lake residents, denser developments in residential neighborhoods equal more cars and less available parking.  Even a project’s proximity to a transit station may not be enough to assuage many residents concerns.

Parking concerns along Linden Ave, a small side street between 300 and 400 South and 700 and 800 East, were the only arguments made in opposition of the Hardage group’s proposed mixed-use development at 400 South and 800 East.  Residents testified before the Planning Commission during a public hearing Wednesday that the proposed development would negatively affect on and off-street parking along the tiny street.

“It is really stressed for parking,” said one Linden Ave. resident at the public hearing.  “I don’t know where all these cars will go.”

As a TOD, or transit oriented development, the hope is that there won’t be much need for parking.  The mixed-use development will include ground-floor retail, 47 residential units that include apartments along 400 South and town-homes on 800 East and an underground parking structure reserved for the building’s residents.

Parking for the ground-floor commercial tenants will be located behind the 400 South building.  Parking for both residential and commercial tenants will be accessed from 800 East.

The project’s proximity to the 900 East Red Line TRAX station requires it to meet TSA zoning district guidelines.

Wednesday’s meeting proved that many of the concepts behind the city’s push for more dense and transit friendly development are still new for many residents.  Members of the Planning Commission were quick to point out that the Hardage project actually exceeds parking requirements and since parking will be accessed through 800 East, Linden Ave should not be affected by the new development.

Under the requirements of the TSA zoning district, projects proposed near transit stations will need to meet certain guidelines determined by a development score sheet.

The development score comes from a point based scale with the highest value points given to projects that are pre-certified as LEED Platinum, a zero-energy building (energy provided on site), preserves a historical structure, provides the majority of parking in an above grade or underground parking structure or wraps a parking structure with habitable space (basically the parking structure is behind the building).

Under the TSA guidelines, projects will be rewarded if they increase lot density, offer mixed-uses, offer a mix of market rate and income restricted residential units, are ADA accessible, provide a community service or will replace a surface parking lot.

The Hardage development embodies many of the key principals behind the new guidelines.  The ground-floor retail will be clustered along 400 South, a pedestrian friendly corridor, the building will be built right off the street with little or no setback from the sidewalk, parking will be nearly completely hidden from view and the project will add density to the 400 South transit corridor.  The project will also improve an underused area that is currently a Pizza Hut and a surface parking lot.

In-spite of neighbor opposition, the Planning Commission approved the project with just one member, K. Marie Taylor, voting against the project.

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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.