Revived project giving more of the same on 400 South

Rendering of the Steve Black Apartments by Harris Architects.
Rendering of the Steve Black Apartments by Harris Architects.

It has been over a year since there has been activity at the site of the former Sizzler at the intersection of 400 South and 400 East.  In February of 2015, Building Salt Lake reported that developers, Carmon Black Management planned to build the Steve Black Apartments (formerly referred to as 4th and 4th), a seven-story, 110 residential unit mixed-used project.  Last year, the developers applied for a Transit Station Area (TSA) development score (required for projects in the TSA zone, or close proximity to a TRAX station), but never started construction.

Now it appears that the project, once again called 4th and 4th Apartments, has changed hands with new developers, the Wright Development Group.  The plans for the site have also changed.  Instead of a mixed-use residential project with corner ground floor retail, the new developers propose to nearly double the number of residential units and remove the retail component.

Because the developer and the plans have changed, Wright Development has applied for a new TSA development score.  As with the previous proposal, 4th and 4th will be seven stories tall but the unit count will increase to 210 units, 136 of which will be one-bedrooms units, with 15 studios and 69 two bedroom units available.

According to their website, 4th and 4th will be the company’s first multi-family project in Salt Lake City proper.  The company, based out of Centerville, has previously focused its multi-family developments in the Utah County suburbs of Pleasant Grove and Orem.

The project includes five wood-framed floors above two floors of structured parking.  Instead of ground floor commercial, the new plan has six ground-floor residential units fronting 400 South with a fitness center and clubhouse fronting the intersection of 400 South and 400 East.  The development will have two lobbies, one on 400 East and the other at the west end of the building on 400 South.

Unlike the original proposal that consisted of one large boxy building, the new design will break up the building with three courtyards above the ground level.  The easternmost courtyard will include a pool.

Having residential units fronting 400 South will help engage the street level, but the new design of the 4th and 4th Apartments has one of two parking entrances on 400 South, with the second at the north edge of the building on 400 East.  The previous proposal had the parking entrances solely on 400 East, a quieter street than 400 South.

The updated proposal for the 4th and 4th Apartments demonstrates some of the limitations of TSA zoning.  Under TSA zoning, projects must earn a development score at least 100 to avoid going before the Planning Commission.  But the point values allow developers to pick and choose features that don’t necessarily contribute to vibrancy and walkability.

For example, the West Station Apartments near Redwood Road and North Temple received a TSA development score of 111, yet the project has ample surface parking with 212 spaces for a 145-unit development, despite the fact it is less than a block away from a TRAX station.

The TSA score review awards the most points for structured parking, up to 50 points.  Yet, developers only receive 10 points for including mixed uses on the ground floor.

The new proposal appears to have a footprint and possibly include the adjacent parcel (the Church of Scientology building) to the west at 353 E 400 South.  The developers did not return phone calls, but a search through Salt Lake County Assessor, shows the owners of the adjacent parcel to be a Michael Wright (the developers are Wright Development Group).

The project has similar elements to two recently completed projects a block to east on 400 South. Those projects, Encore Apartments and Seasons on the Boulevard, both lack street engagement.  Like 4th and 4th, Seasons on the Boulevard also has a parking entrance on 400 South.  And if the footprint has indeed been expanded, it appears that, like the Encore Apartments, 4th and 4th will take up a significant portion of the block along 400 South.

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.