RDA board formally adopts Granary District loan program

Atmosphere Studios converted a warehouse into office, event and staging space. Photo by Isaac Riddle.

On Tuesday, the Salt Lake City Council acting as the board of directors of the Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City, unanimously approved the adoption of the Granary District Adaptive Reuse Program.  City officials originally approved the program in 2014 as a pilot program.

“The primary goal here is to convert a vacant or under utilized buildings into something more productive and the second (goal) is to drive additional energy into the neighborhood,” said Council member Derek Kitchen, a resident of the Granary District.

Through small loans, the program is used to encourage adaptive reuse of the neighborhood’s stock of warehouse and industrial buildings. Since 2014, two projects have utilized the reuse program, Fisher Brewery and Atmosphere studios.  Both projects received a $75,000 loan through the program.

Map of the Granary District Project Area. Image courtesy Salt Lake City public documents.

In 2015, Atmosphere Studios, a professional services firm that specializes in the creation of branded environments for exhibits, trade shows and other events, moved its headquarters to the 300 West of 700 South.  The company converted a 53,000 square-foot warehouse, that was formerly used to print newspapers, into an office and staging space.

Fisher Brewing, on the 300 West block of 800 South, opened in 2016.  The brewery is an adaptive reuse of two adjacent car garages.

To qualify for the loan, projects must be located in the Granary District Project Area, and include a reuse of an under utilized building.  Additionally building uses must include either neighborhood retail, office or residential.

Council members debated expanding the list of allowable uses to allow for job-promoting businesses that fall out of the office and retail space definition like commercial bakeries or other creative type production.

After a discussion, the board decided to keep the current list of allowable uses as is.  Most of the Granary is zoned General Commercial (CG), which already allows for uses outside the type of businesses that the loan program seeks to attract like industrial assembly, recycling collection, medical labs, car washes etc.

“I worry about it being so broad that we have some unintended consequences,” said Council member Lisa Adams.

The max amount available per project is $200,000 and includes a match requirement.   The loan is a zero interest loan and recipients of the loan are allowed incremental loan forgiveness if they building in a timely manner, remain open during and stay in good financial standing over a five-year term.  If recipients fail to meet any of the above requirements their interest rate increases to 14 percent.

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.