Pioneer Park neighborhood to see single-use HQ office growth, despite zoning’s insistence on mixed-use

At 400 West and 400 South, the Fuller Paint Building (1922), restored by Big-D Construction in 2005 for its headquarters in Salt Lake City, plays an important role in the architectural integrity of the city’s warehouse district.

Since then, Big-D has become a major force in construction management and general contracting in the Wasatch region and beyond.

At its HQ on 1.12 acres at the southwest corner of Pioneer Park, Big-D is looking to add over 30,000 square feet of new office space and pour a four-level, 300-space parking structure.

That’s a 300% increase over current parking, even though the new square footage will only be a 1/3 increase over what currently exists.

Along 400 West at 400 South. Images courtesy Google.

The proposal has to pass the city’s Planning Commission as a conditional use, as required in Downtown D-3 zoning. Despite unambiguous language in city code directing “multi-family residential or mixed use developments” in D-3, the single-use project is likely to be approved.

The project – and does it qualify for conditional use?

Big-D plans to add 31,350 square feet of new office space, enough to accommodate 100 additional employees at desks. That will add to the 64.573 square feet in their existing office building.

Downtown locals GSBS Architects have designed a modernist glass structure to front 400 West and an un-screened parking ramp backing up to 500 West. 

Renderings courtesy GSBS Architects.

Salt Lake City’s Redevelopment Agency has spent tens, if not hundreds of millions along 500 West since the Corradini Administration in the 1990s was a partner in opening up the Gateway District to development by removing train tracks and installing infrastructure. The D-3 zoning, insisting on mixed-use, reflects the city’s intentions in the area.

Yet Big-D’s application diminishes those intentions. 

Renderings courtesy GSBS Architects.

The D-3 zoning purpose statement states: “The reuse of existing buildings and the construction of new buildings are to be done as multi-family residential or mixed use developments containing retail or office uses on the lower floors and residential on the upper floors.”

Exceptions, of course, follow. But then city code bites down: “Commercial/office uses in buildings of three (3) stories or more without multi-family dwellings shall be allowed only as a conditional use and then only when the applicant has demonstrated that the proposed location is not suitable for multi-family residential use” (21A.30.040 C 3).

Does this proposal qualify as a conditional use? “Only when the applicant has demonstrated that the proposed location is not suitable for multi-family residential use.”

Big-D’s response? In its application, it asserts, “As the existing current use will be maintained for the entire site, it is not suitable for the owner/tenant to be required to develop a multi-family residential use on their HQ site.“

The Planning Division at the city hasn’t accepted the application yet – it is currently in “pre-screen,” according to city records.

Email Luke Garrott

Interested in seeing where developers are proposing and building new apartments in Salt Lake, or just want to support a local source of news on what’s happening in your neighborhood? Subscribe to Building Salt Lake.

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.