New micro + studio apartment project to test a new niche in the Downtown market

Salt Lake Crossing, a 300 micro-unit and studio rental building in the Hardware District, is being proposed by the area’s master developer, SALT Development.

The Salt Lake Hardware project continues its bold rise between the North Temple Bridge Trax/FrontRunner stop and West High School.

SALT’s 4th West, Hardware East and West buildings have added 906 units to the area so far. Three of its planned five buildings are completed and it’s preparing the fourth – with 300 micro and studio-units only.

Salt Lake Crossing is seeking Design Review approval, as it fails to meet one of the main design standards of its Urban Center Station Core TSA-UC-C zoning. It is asking for relief from requirements that it treat adjacent streets as pedestrian streets, with major implications for design – including number of entrances, fenestration, and ground-floor uses along 490 West.

Ultimate judgement will come at the Salt Lake City Planning Commission.

The Project

On 1.52 acres, it plans 300 units in a podium + five story building. Half of the units will be micro (228 sf) and half will be studios (470 sf). At 198 units per acre, it is an impressively dense development for the local market.

The new building, designed by local architects Method Studio, is proposing to “face the street” only on the south, one of the short sides of the structure. The south side of the building fronts 200 North and the Hardware West building (with Atlas mural).

Rendering of SL Crossing from the southwest. Image courtesy SALT Development.

Salt Lake Crossing will park at a .63 ratio per unit in the two levels of its podium. It resides in the richest transit neighborhood in Utah – TRAX Green Line and FrontRunner commuter rail converge just steps away, while three bus lines link with the FrontRunner station at Salt Lake Hardware’s back door on 490 West.

The south part of the building will be three stories of co-working space nested in a five-story amenities-rich environment, including an oversized roof-top hot tub.

Turning its back to transit?

In its application for the zoning variance, SALT stated “The request for the design review is for zoning to not consider 490 West as a primary pedestrian accessway due to: the high volume of bus traffic, no allowed street parking; and the façade facing the UTA FrontRunner and the Union Pacific lines.”

Rendering of SL Crossing from…across a very wide street, supposedly 490 West and the train platform. Not to scale. Image courtesy SALT Development.

While SALT seems content to take advantage of the high density allowed in the TSA-UC-C zone, it seems less willing to orient toward the intent of the zoning. The zoning’s purpose statement in Salt Lake City Code seeks  “to enhance the area closest to a transit station as a lively, people oriented place. The core area may mix ground floor retail, office, commercial and residential space in order to activate the public realm.”

SALT points out in its application several hard truths about the current shape of development around the UTA North Temple FrontRunner station.

Calling out UTA’s lack of enhancements around their platform, SALT wrote: “Note that the transfer station was installed without landscaping which does not soften the transition from the train tracks to the bus lane.”

Arguing that they, too, should be able to turn their back to 490 West, trains and busses, SALT comments on the traditional development pattern of its surroundings. “At this project site the train tracks present both a physical and visual boundary between downtown and the industrial neighborhoods. All projects, both new and old, present the back of their buildings to this line.”

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.