Northwest Pipeline project heading to planning

After nearly two years since Salt Lake City officials announced their selection of Cowboy Partners and Form Development to redevelop the site of the former Public Safety Building, the developers are moving closer to breaking ground.  

The proposed mixed-use project, Violin School Commons, at the northeast corner of the 200 South and 300 East intersection, will bring a mix of retail, affordable and market rates residential units to a long vacant area on the eastern edge of downtown Salt Lake.

Aerial view of the Violin School Commons. Image courtesy Salt Lake City documents.

In order to build as currently proposed, the developers will need subdivision, planned development, and conditional use approvals from the Salt Lake City Planning Commission.  The project will be one of the several developments featured in an Open House hosted by the Planning Division on Thursday, September 21 at the City-County Building.

The project will consist of the restoration and adaptive reuse of the historic Northwest Pipeline Building (formerly the Public Safety Building) and the construction of two mixed-use buildings.  The three buildings will have a combined total of 248 residential units that will range from supportive housing to luxury apartments.

The eight-story, Northwest Pipeline Building will be rebranded as the Metropolitan and will include 74 market rate apartments, 5,500 square feet of ground floor commercial space and 4,500 square feet of amenity/lobby space.  The developers intend to lease the commercial space for a large restaurant.  The residential units will be a mix of studio, one and two bedroom apartments with 15 studio, 44 one-bedroom and 15 two-bedroom apartments.

Directly east of the Metropolitan will be the Liberty Uptown.  The five-story building will have 109 mixed-income units and will wrap around a parking structure that will serve all three buildings.  Liberty Uptown will include 2,260 square feet of ground floor commercial space and 2,500 square feet of ground floor amenity space.  The residential floors will feature one and two-bedroom affordable and market-rate units with two, one bedroom units for every two bedroom unit.  The affordable units will be reserved for residents earning between 25 to 60 percent AMI (Area Median Income).  As is becoming the local trend, the Liberty Uptown will also have nine walk-up style townhome units at the ground level.

The Magnolia will have 65 unit permanent supportive housing units.  The building will be six-stories and all the units will be studio apartments.  Additionally, the Magnolia will include 1,500 square feet of commercial and social enterprise space for residents.

According to, Chris Zarek of Form Development, the Violin School Commons gets its name from the adjacent Violin Making School directly south of the development on 200 South.  In February, Zarek presented updated plans for the project to residents during the Central City Neighborhood Council’s monthly community meeting.  In that meeting, Zarek cited setbacks in the developers’ ability to secure housing and tax credits as the reason for construction delays.

Because of the adaptive reuse of the Pipeline building and the mixed-income units, the project potentially qualifies for a myriad of housing and tax credits, including affordable housing credits and historic renovation tax credits.  

The project will also include open space, the largest of which will be the Violin School Common, a half-acre plaza at the center of the development.  The developers will also reintroduce Arnold Place, a historic street that used to bisect the block that will connect residents to the parking structure.  The street is designed to be able to be converted into temporary public space for events like street festivals.

According to Zarek, the common will be privately owned but will be open to the public and activated by ground floor commercial and public uses.  

Elevation rendering of the Northwest Pipeline Development as would be seen from 300 East. Image courtesy Salt Lake City.
Elevation rendering of the Northwest Pipeline Development as would be seen from 300 East. Image courtesy Salt Lake City.
Archived photo of the Northwest Pipeline Development Site as seen from the intersection of 200 South and 300 East. 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