Planning Commission approves Central Ninth development

Aerial view of proposed Jefferson Walkway project. Image courtesy Salt Lake City Planning Division.
Aerial view of proposed Jefferson Walkway project. Image courtesy Salt Lake City Planning Division.

After years of planning, the proposed Jefferson Walkway project in Central Ninth is in the final stages of development. During its Wednesday meeting, the Salt Lake Planning Commission approved the projects developer’s requests for a planned development and preliminary subdivision amendment.

The Jefferson Walkway project, referred to as a cottage development, is unique in Salt Lake because it includes the construction of six cottage homes, four of which will front a midblock pedestrian walkway connecting Jefferson Street to 200 West and the 900 South TRAX station.

Jefferson Walkway is a collaborative project between Benchmark Modern, builders of energy efficient, custom built homes and the Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City.

The project’s proposed site is o.5 acres and currently consists of four vacant homes, two facing Jefferson Street and two facing 200 West.  Only one of the homes, at 830 Jefferson, will be included in the new development.  The remaining three homes will be demolished to make way for construction while the fourth home will be moved farther south.

Developers needed the planned development approval to have homes fronting a walkway and not a public street as is required under zoning.  The subdivision amendment will allow the developers to build seven different parcels on what was previously four parcels.

The 830 Jefferson home will include an accessory dwelling unit above a two-car garage.  The garage will be accessed from an alleyway that connects 800 to 900 South.  The entrance to the accessory dwelling will front the walkway.

Current plans for the new homes include two story units with a smaller footprint than is typical in the area. The six new lots vary between 1700 and 2482 square feet.  The four interior homes will each have 750 square foot footprint (1600 square feet altogether) while the remaining two homes fronting residential streets, will have an 864 square foot footprint (1664 square feet altogether).  At least 50 percent of the lot is reserved for outdoor space.  Six off-street parking spaces will be included.  As with the garage, parking will be accessed via the alleyway.

The project is the second recent project to have home front a walkway instead of a public street.  Sego Homes recently completed four townhomes in Sugar House that front the S-Line streetcar and greenway.

Voda Landscape + Planning  designed the landscaping and walkway that will be privately owned but have a public easement (allow public use).   The walkway will be designed to serve both as a common space for the project’s residents and as a pedestrian connection for residents on Jefferson Street to access the TRAX station.  According to developers, the walkway will be maintained by HOA fees.

“This project is a good job, through the use of landscaping and architectural features it creates a good public environment,” said Stuart Gray, project manager at Gray Slab Architects and architect of the proposed cottage homes during the Planning Commission meeting.

City planners recommend that the Planning Commission approve the project but with 12 conditions. Those conditions include allowing the developer to reduce front or rear yard setbacks to 0 feet, exceed the open space requirement to allow the homes to occupy more of the lot size and orient the home’s entrances toward the public walkway.  While planning recommends relaxing most required setbacks for the project,  the home that will be adjacent to 200 West will need to have the maximum front yard setback of 10 feet.

According to Gray, the homes are designed to be energy efficient with a low carbon footprint.  The homes will have solar panels and run on all electricity.   Gray told the Planning Commission that, although the homes will run entirely on electricity, with the solar panels and good insulation energy use, will be low.

According to RDA documents, the Jefferson Walkway project was initially conceived in 2011.  After a few more years of planning, Salt Lake City Council acting as the RDA board of directors selected Benchmark Modern as the developer in May of 2014.

The Jefferson Walkway is one of several “missing middle” developments underway or in the planning stages in the Central Ninth neighborhood.  Construction is underway on the Prana Townhomes, a 21-unit project at the intersection of Washington and 800 South.

The RDA selected LandForge Inc. to develop a mixed-use project at the intersection of 900 South and 200 West.  That project will include 23 for-sale units with ground floor commercial below two floors of residential fronting 900 South and townhomes along 2oo West and the adjacent alleyway to the east.

Also under construction on 900 South and Jefferson is the Central Ninth Market, an RDA project with Atlas Architects that will include a grocery store, bar, restaurant, salon and new offices for Local First. The second phase of that project will include for-sale townhomes directly south the market.

*This post has been updated

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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 isaac@buildingsaltlake.com.