Under infill housing pressure, Central City Historic District provides no protection to vintage 1911 building

Sign up to get free Building Salt Lake emails in your inbox.

Building Salt Lake Pro and Premium Members can search for any building permit in Salt Lake City. Stay in the know in the market by becoming a Member today.

In similar story befalling what’s left of original buildings throughout the city, a demolition request has been filed with the planning office to take down an in-use 1911 structure in the middle of one of the city’s local historic districts.

The proposed development, at the southeast corner of 300 South and 600 East, plans a new building with 38 studio units on .38 acres on adjacent lots where two building are slated for demolition. Another two units would be added with the conversion of a single-family home at 612 E. 300 South into a duplex and its backyard into a small parking lot.

The developers, calling themselves Bamboo, Inc., also own the Inlingua language learning service currently occupying the offices in the corner building at 602 East.

The two-story structure at 602 E. 300 South, completed in 1911, was determined to be a “contributing structure,” that is, historically significant, in a 1980 survey and again when the historic district was established in 1996.

Yet a later survey in 2013 changed that status to “non-contributing” and an Administrative Interpretation done by the Planning Division in September of last year, at the request of the developers, re-affirmed that decision to refuse the building protection from demolition.

Not surprisingly, the properties are zoned RMF-35, one of the zones being liberalized to encourage higher-density infill housing.

The project

The new development, currently called Bamboo multi-family housing, will construct a new three-story wood-framed structure at the southeast corner of 300 South and 600 East.

The application states, “The building elevation along 600 E., the primary block face, is broken down into three distinct masses, simply separated by the entrance and main circulation cores. The balcony aids in breaking the mass down to a finer level and provides the much needed “eyes-on-the-street.” Third and lastly, our choice in durable building materials of brick and fiber cement board provides a distinctive character and refined look for a new building found within a historic district. “

No building renderings or elevations were included in the applicant’s initial submittal.

Demolitions are planned at 602 E., left, once considered a “contributing structure,” and 321 S., built in 1968 and considered “out-of-period” and non-contributing.

At 612 E. 300 South, developers plan to construct an addition on the rear to make the “contributing structure” – protected from demolition – into a duplex. Their application states that “612 E. plays a vital role in providing parking, which is located behind the principle building.”

Images courtesy Thom Jakab Architecture + Design.

Density for the overall development, which sits on 3 lots covering .49 acre, will be just over 81.5 units/acre.

The developers are represented by Thom Jakab Architecture + Design, the firm behind the ultra-modern one-story Sequel Salon at 900 South and 400 East and the remodeled interior of Salt Lake Film Society at Broadway and State.

They are asking, through the planned development process, for exemptions from density limitations in RMF-35, front and rear setback reductions, and permission to shrink off-street parking requirements.

Applicants are hoping to count on-street parking (to do so they need to convert six stalls along 600 East from a two-hour to a 48-hour limit). They also argue that parking demand management strategies that include bike parking and bike sharing, as well as proximity to transit, will justify providing just 13 off-street car-parking stalls.

Part of the architect’s design includes 38 wall-hung bike-parking stalls for tenants, as well as a desire to attract a GreenBike station nearby.

The Bamboo multi-family project will see three reviews at the city: the Historic Landmark Commission for demolition of two non-contributing structures in a historic district, and one at Planning Commission for a planned development.

Email Luke Garrott

Interested in seeing where developers are proposing and building new apartments in Salt Lake, or just want to support a local source of news on what’s happening in your neighborhood? Subscribe to Building Salt Lake.

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.