Seattle developers completing 19-acre townhome development in South Salt Lake, about to go big in Granary

Salt Lake City is becoming a destination for out-of-town developers who pride themselves on quality design and the re-purposing of historic buildings.

Lake Union Partners, a 10-year old, mid-size development firm from Seattle, is not alone in seeing potential in the Salt Lake area – and is constructing both residential and commercial product in notable ways.

INDUSTRY SLC, from Denver, also is investing in the Granary District in an unprecedented scale with adaptive reuse of some of the area’s stock of warehouses and manufacturing sites.

Hawthorne townhomes, looking at the Great Salt Lake from the southeast, West Temple at center-right. Photo by Luke Garrott.

At 2852 S. West Temple, Lake Union’s Hawthorne townhome project is helping transform South Salt Lake from an industrial appendage of Salt Lake City into a housing destination.

Lake Union Partners will also start rehabilitation and reuse on five existing buildings in the Granary District, starting in January 2020.

Hawthorne townhomes

Hawthorne has signed Dali Crepes, previously a local catering company, to be their retail space open to the public on West Temple. Photo by Luke Garrott.

The real estate listing for Hawthorne’s property, the former Buehner Block manufacturing site, claimed it was entitled to over 1000 units on its 19.28 acres for $9.5 million.

In the early 1960s, Buehner Block was advertising their contemporary design construction products in the local press. The following appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune, where they called it “The Luxury Look.”

Advertisement clipped from the Salt Lake Tribune in 1961.

Why did the new owners of the 19 acre property opt for only 218 units, instead of maximizing development potential of the site?

Newton Breiter, a development manager for Lake Union, told Building Salt Lake that it was extremely appealing to build townhomes in an emerging neighborhood “like an original suburb.”

“Safe, secure, remote, quiet” were the words he used – adding that use of “the existing street grid and offering and a network of open spaces” was also important to their investment.

Hawthorne is a gated community. Designed with an internal north-south, east-west grid, it has three access points to the public right-of-way, all on West Temple.

Its design concept for buildings might best be described as Scandinavian Modern. Clean lines, touches of wood, pitched roofs, large windows, and ample shared space distinguish the project.

The Clubhouse at Hawthorne. Photo by Luke Garrott.

Many recent townhome developments in Salt Lake seem to be marked by limited shared space, ample asphalt, and garage doors.

Hawthorne offers two-car garages for every unit. Breiter mentioned that the garages are alley-loaded, drawing attention to designers’ attempt to encourage neighborliness in shared spaces.

Rental units, rates, tenants

Hawthorne’s townhomes are two and three bedroom rental units, with a current average of $1786 in rent. Their units range from 1121 to 1537 SF, from two to three stories.

According to Jennica Stevens, Business Manager at the project, they have adjusted rental rates for some units slightly downward to remain competitive in the surrounding market.

Currently, their rental rate averages $1.40 per SF. 42% of their units are rented – even as only two of the four phases of Hawthorne are completed.

According to Stevens, many of their recent inquiries are coming from current Downtown renters who are looking for more space. Two-car garages – included in every unit – may be a part of that appeal.

Hawthorne townhomes, photo by Luke Garrott.

Granary District blowing up

Lake Union is hesitant to reveal at this point its specific interests in the Granary District. Yet it tells Building Salt Lake that five buildings will be developed, some in partnership with the EVO ski and snowboard company out of Seattle, as an outdoor recreation campus. 

Building Salt Lake will continue its updates of Granary District developments as facts become available. Images below courtesy of Lake Union Partners.

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.