Officials celebrate more affordable housing

The 9th East Lofts as seen from 900 East. Photo by Isaac Riddle.

The city continues to chip away at a large affordable housing deficit.  Today local officials gathered to officially open the city’s newest addition in affordable housing, the 9th East Lofts at Bennion Plaza a 68-unit mixed-use building on the 400 South block of 900 East.

“This is a model for mixed-use affordable housing… and is a dent into the great need that we have for affordable housing,” said Palmer DePaulis, chair of the Housing Authority of Salt Lake City Board of Commissioners.

Like most of the affordable housing in development in the city, the project was strategically placed near transit.  The 9th East Lofts are a just a few yards from the 900 East TRAX Station and are directly adjacent to the 209 bus route, a high-frequency bus route that runs every 15 minutes from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“This project is a demonstration of where we need to be,” said Melissa Jensen, director of Housing and Neighborhood Development (HAND).

The scoreboard from the old Kiwanis Felt Building is displayed in the activity room at the 9th East Lofts at Bennion Plaza. Photo by Isaac Riddle.

It took several years of planning, obtaining financing and many collaborative partners to bring the 9th East Lofts to the market.  The project was made possible through partnerships with the Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake, the Housing Authority of Salt Lake, HAND and the Utah Housing Corporation.

The 9th East Lofts replaced what was historically the Kiwanis Felt Boys Club building and later a recreational center managed by Salt Lake County.  The builder incorporated materials from the former rec building into the construction of the lofts.  Crews used the old gym floor to cover a large portion of the wall in the ground-floor activity room which also houses the old scoreboard.

The 9th East Lofts will be LEED Certified with ground floor commercial and six floors of residential space with 57 one bedroom and 11 two-bedroom apartments, all reserved for low-income residents.   The building features abundant open space with a public plaza separating the building from the sidewalk, a large second-story courtyard and balconies outside each apartment.

The living room of a one-bedroom unit in the 9th East Lofts at Bennion Plaza. Photo by Isaac Riddle.

The project will serve a mix of community needs with 54 units reserved for residents earning between 25 percent to 55 percent of the Area Median Income (between $15,000 and $30,000 a year).  The remaining 14 units will be reserved for residents earning over 55 percent AMI.  Rents will range between $296 to $764 a month based on the tenant’s AMI.

Almost a third of the units will be reserved for residents with specific needs beyond affordability with nine of the units reserved for residents with physical disabilities, four units for victims of domestic violence, four units for military veterans and five units for residents transitioning out of homelessness.

“The affordable housing crisis is an opportunity to lift up our community,” said Salt Lake City Mayor, Jackie Biskupski.  “It is not about the numbers, it’s about the people.”

The city is in the process of finalizing the second housing plan in two years, Growing SLC which will look at expanding housing options across the city to increase the housing stock to help meet demand and make housing more affordable for everyone.  City officials estimate that there is a shortage of 7,500 affordable units in Salt Lake.

With uncertainty at the federal level, cities like Salt Lake will have to depend more than ever on local resources to provide more affordable housing.  Most affordable housing projects rely on money from Housing and Urban Development, under President Donald Trump the agency could see it’s budget significantly reduced.

The paneling in the activity room is repurposed wood from the gym of the old Kiwanis Felt Building. 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