South Salt Lake could land a huge new mixed-use project on land that was almost a car dealership

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After losing out on its attempt at bringing a Porsche dealership into the heart of its downtown district, South Salt Lake has landed the interest of a major developer who wants to add affordable housing and retail on a key 5-acre parcel.

Blaser Ventures, the new name of the firm known locally for its creation of the Post District, hopes to take the site and add up to 500 new units plus ample retail space under plans that have recently come to light.

While many of the plans are conceptual at this point, Brandon Blaser plans to purchase the site at 2280 S. State, which includes frontage on State and Main streets but more importantly along the S-Line of the Utah Transit Authority’s Trax system.

“This site and location is unique. You should very much treat it with the sacredness that it does have because it is the gateway entrance into this entire plan,” Blaser said during a hearing last week that provided some insight into the plans.

South Salt Lake sold the land to the Boyer Company in 2021 for $4.6 million, according to records Building Salt Lake obtained from the city. The city has kept those funds in an account and is now considering using them as a subsidy to help spur redevelopment of the land in a way that would be much more fitting for the goals of urban redevelopment than a car lot would have been.

During a recent meeting with the Redevelopment Agency’s board, the city indicated it was considering using the $4.6 million to help cover about a third of the cost of the land acquisition for Blaser. That suggests the price of the land has skyrocketed since the town sold it to Boyer, who then sold it to John Elway’s car dealership company.

Blaser plans to target a price point that’s below 80 percent median income for the residential units. He also said he would apply his same local-first approach to leasing out retail spaces in his developments to the site, aiming to also keep commercial leases below market rate.

“There is a satisfaction bringing a home to someone who otherwise could not afford it,” Blaser said.

“Development is coming. It will come,” he said. “It’s the responsibility of those of us that are on the front end to really set the bar, set the local community flavor, feel and ethos of what we want to accomplish as a city.”

Renderings by MVE + Partners and Blaser Ventures.

Conceptual renderings show residential buildings set back from Central Pointe Place, which is the east-west street that carries the S-Line on its way to and from Sugar House to the east.

Historically, South Salt Lake has largely ignored the blessing offered by the S-Line and adjacent Parleys Trail. The town allowed developers to effectively eliminate the mixed-use trail between State and Main streets to make way for an enlarged parking lot for a Winco grocery store, which is the primary existing anchor to the city’s “downtown.”

To this day, the South Salt Lake City Station on Central Pointe Place — not to be confused with Central Pointe Station on a different street two blocks west — has failed to attract transit-oriented development seen elsewhere along the corridor.

That would start to change with Blaser’s development.

“We push the development all the way up to the transit,” Blaser said. “People engagement here is critical.”

Blaser referred to the Post District as an example of the scale, form and feel that this development could take on. Adding to those vibes, conceptual renderings were created by MVE + Partners, the Los Angeles-based architectural firm that led design work for the Post District.

Blaser indicated his development was intended to provide space for a broad mix of lifestyles, noting the desire to add space for families, working professionals and low-income earners. But he said he’d go even further. 

“As part of the development agreement I would volunteer and ask that you’d command that these are below market rates,” Blaser said, referring to the retail spaces he intends to add. “These need to go to the local communities. I know of the other restaurants and other groups that are retailers here in this market that frankly are getting displaced by other developments.”

Blaser received a mostly warm reception from the South Salt Lake Redevelopment Agency, despite criticism from one member of the board.

“Your vision is great, but I want to see owner-occupied condos, owner-occupied townhomes, owner-occupied commercial spaces,” said Paul Sanchez, a member of the City Council. “If that happens this is great for South Salt Lake. But if you’re the developer and you’re  the landlord it’s only great for you.”

Blaser countered by saying he’s working on coming up with shared equity models for renters within his developments, work that has been elusive among others who have been interested in sharing the wealth created by their rental developments. 

Other members of the RDA board pushed back on Sanchez’s criticism and said the project could be catalytic for the city. 

Email Taylor Anderson

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Posted by Taylor Anderson

Taylor Anderson grew up near Chicago and made his way West to study journalism at the University of Montana. He's been a staff writer for the Chicago Tribune, Bend Bulletin and Salt Lake Tribune. A move from Portland, Oregon, to Salt Lake City opened his eyes to the importance of good urban design for building strong neighborhoods. He lives on the border of the Liberty Wells and Ballpark neighborhoods.