New RMF-30 projects are bringing Missing Middle Housing to Salt Lake

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Salt Lake City’s recent zoning changes for missing middle housing are starting to bear fruit.

Its changes to accessory dwelling units led to a rush of homeowners applying for building permits to add housing to their properties.  

Now, we’re seeing developers’ responses to recent changes to the city’s small-scale multifamily RMF-30 zone, which took effect in April. 

One of the first projects to take advantage of this zoning received design review and planned development approval from the Planning Commission in October. The planned development, located at 532 S. 1300 E., is close to the University of Utah. The project includes three new townhomes to be built on a 9,500 sqft lot that has an existing triplex in the front.

Warren Crummett, an up-and-coming developer with Go West Investments, is proposing the new townhomes, which could either be rentals or for sale.

Renderings of the project at 532 S. 1300 E.

“The new RMF-30 zoning changes have opened up a whole new option for missing middle developers in SLC,” Crummett said. “Before these changes, there were no opportunities to build in this zone.”

The RMF-30 changes now allow for smaller lot sizes and increased density bonuses for maintaining existing structures on the lot. The changes now only require 2,000 sqft of land space per unit and even less for tiny homes. Now, developers can receive two additional units for maintaining the existing structure on a lot and not require additional parking or total street frontage. 

Jordan Atkin, with TAG SLC, recently applied for some zoning changes to RMF-30 in different parts of the city, including a group of lots located at 1549 S 1000 W. The project would include 28 rear-loaded townhomes. This rezoning request was approved by the City Council.

“The RMF-30 zone allowed us to get city approval without potentially allowing non-residential uses like RMU-35 and to avoid additional approval for lots without street frontage,” said Atkin, who is a Building Salt Lake Sponsor. 

TAG SLC has another project at 1380 S 900 W with 21 units. They are currently waiting for the City Council to vote on the rezone on November 7th after a positive recommendation from the Planning Commission.

Still, the city is not approving any RMF-30 application that comes in. 

TAG SLC applied for an RMF-30 zoning change at 924 W 200 N in April, intending to build single-family detached homes but with second floors and less individual lot space. After much negative public comment, the Planning Commission felt that the current zoning allowed more than enough flexibility, with four single-family homes permitted. The zoning amendment proposal was sent to the city council with a negative recommendation with a vote of 5-2.

However, when the context fits, the city is attracting new development. 

NeighborWorks, a local affordable housing non-profit, received a positive recommendation for a rezoning request from R1-7000 to RMF-30 on eight properties along 800 W between 300 N and Simondi Avenue in the Fairpark neighborhood. The City Council will vote on that request in early 2024.

There are no current plans for the site, but the rezone allows them to go from eight dwelling units to a maximum of 20 units for all the combined lots. 

Another benefit of the changes to the RMF-30 zone is the ability to build new housing types, such as tiny homes and cottage court developments. These developments are historically all over Salt Lake, but there was no way to build these again before these new zoning changes. 

RMF-30 also has design standards in the zone to help the city control development types and looks even more than the previous zoning definition. These include limiting blank walls, the direction of entrances, building materials used, and glass usage on the facade. 

While the city updated RMF-30, other RMF zones (35 & 45) have not seen these new updates to lot size restrictions and design standards. This may be intentional to prevent higher-density developments, but the city is exploring new density bonuses for adaptive reuse projects throughout every neighborhood.

“RMF-30 is now a more dense zone than RMF-35 and RMF-45. I would love to see city officials work to correct this so the zoning requirements matched the city’s vision when they laid out zoning,” Crummett said. 

These projects are the first test for the city that passed these changes intending to address missing middle housing without allowing too much density. 

Smaller lot sizes, fewer width restrictions, and more housing types will hopefully lead to more affordable and varied house types while Salt Lake keeps experiencing growing pains. Flexibility will show more small-scale growth, similar to what Maven is doing near the Central 9th corridor. Infill and smaller homes will soon see more rentals and for-sale homes hitting the market.

Editor’s note: This post has been corrected to reflect that the Neighborworks site at 800 W and Simondi Ave. will be voted on by the City Council in early 2024.

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Email Zeke Peters

Posted by Zeke Peters

Zeke Peters is a dual-masters student at the University of Utah studying Urban Planning and Public Administration. He works as a planner and designer in Salt Lake City. He currently resides in downtown Salt Lake and is from Austin, Minnesota, the birthplace of SPAM.