Take a walk on top of Astra Tower on its way to becoming Utah’s tallest building

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Salt Lake City’s skyline is on its way for a transformation, and one building is set to take the crown.

Workers recently laid concrete on the 38th of what will be the 40-story, 449-foot Astra Tower, a residential super-structure that will set the high-water mark for building height in Utah.

Astra Tower, developed by Kensington Investment Company, will surpass the 422-foot Wells Fargo Center to become the tallest building in Utah.

It is a new product in the Salt Lake City housing market, one that’s being marketed for renters looking for ultra-high end housing in the core of the capital city.

Several new apartment buildings have been amenity-filled and marketed toward high income earners. Astra will take that and add altitude, with views of the valley in any direction.

On Wednesday night, representatives from the development team gave insights into what it’s like to assemble a construction team to construct a superstructure amid a pandemic, labor shortage, rising construction costs and ongoing supply shortages.

The tour was arranged by a group within the Utah chapter of the Urban Land Institute, which allowed Building Salt Lake to join and take photos along the way. It was day 468 of construction, a timeline tracked by a running timer that sits in the sprawling conference room at Kensington HQ, 311 S. State.

Looking west across as dust kicks up off the Great Salt Lake during sunset from the 38th floor of Astra Tower on July 26, 2023. Photo by Taylor Anderson.

Even a lawsuit from a nearby property owner and a drill collapse early in the project’s development failed to slow construction in any meaningful way.

Astra is set to be completed next July, about two-and-a-half years after construction crews began ground improvements on the northwest corner of 200 South State.

The tower will stretch past 99 West on South Temple, the condo building erected in 2010 that is currently the tallest residential building in the state.

No, this is not affordable housing. It is market rate, and Kensington is effectively testing a thesis that there is an existing demand for apartments that very well could be the most expensive in the Intermountain West. (If that thesis proves correct, Kensington is sitting on two more sites Downtown that could continue the city’s skyscraper boom.)

As such, its renters will likely be among the highest income earners in the state who will expect an amenity-filled building to go with the prime site.

The building will provide three floors of amenities for renters in the building’s 377 units.

Astra renters will have access to what HKS is calling an urban park on the building’s 8th floor. The park will have paths to walk and be filled with large trees and other landscaping. The floor will also have a gym, club house and guest houses.

Astra Tower will fill in the high-rise nature of the 200 South corridor near State Street. Below are the Walker Center (right), One Utah Center (left) and the newly built Hyatt Regency.

Astra’s eighth floor will have an urban park filled with trees as well as paths, fireplaces and more. Guest apartments will be to the east, with more amenities inside.

Cheers rose to the 38th floor from a crowd gathered at the Gallivan Center to watch the U.S. Women’s National Team compete in the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Looking southeast from Astra Tower, which will have panoramic views of the Wasatch Mountains. City Hall is on the right. Convexity Tower, which will be 31 stories tall, is seen under construction near the center.

The view from Astra demonstrates the city’s “wedding cake” effect of zoning, with the tallest buildings in the Central Business District tapering in height as you move away from the urban core.

Amenities within units will scale up higher in the building, peaking with the two floors of penthouse units, Kensington representatives said.

When complete, Astra will surpass Wells Fargo Center as Salt Lake City’s tallest building. Wells Fargo was also designed by HKS.

360 people work at Astra Tower during the day. That number will increase as teams begin working on the interior and facade. Construction is scheduled to finish in July 2024.

Workers use construction elevators, external staircases and ladders to ascend the tower while it’s under construction.

Astra suffered an early setback when a drill that was digging 114 feet below the earth’s surface collapsed onto State Street. No one was killed in the accident.

Astra will be the second high-rise added to the State Street corridor in Downtown Salt Lake City. Workers wrapped up 95 State last year. A number of investors are rumored to be preparing to continue the city’s skyscraper boom.

Development Details

  • Owner: Kensington Investment Company, project led by Shane Rensmon
  • General Contractor: Jacobsen, led by Matt Radke

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.