City approves funding for four affordable housing projects

Rendering of the Book Cliffs Lodge Apartments as designed by Method Studio. Image courtesy Salt Lake City public documents.

Armed with $10 million reserved for affordable housing projects, on Tuesday, October 10 the Salt Lake City Council acting as the Board of Directors for the city’s Redevelopment Agency RDA Board approved a total of $8.5 million in housing loans to create 570 total new housing units, of which nearly 300 will be income-restricted.

The new housing units come from four different projects that will add new housing to the Downtown, Central City, Ballpark and Jordan Meadows neighborhoods.  The projects include two developments that are already actively going through the building permit process, the Exchange and Book Cliff Lodge.  The other two projects receiving funding are by Chicago-area developer Brinshore and consist of the failed State Street Plaza and the redevelopment of the former Overnighter Motel property at 1500 West and North Temple.

In December 2017, the council acting as the RDA Board of Directors set aside $10 million to go to affordable housing projects in the city with $5.5 million to go to projects citywide and $4.5 million reserved for projects within neighborhoods designated as high-opportunity areas, amenity-rich areas with high levels of prosperity.

In June 2018 RDA staff submitted a Notice of Available Funding (NOFA) to the development community for the $10 million in low-interest loans.  According to staff, the RDA received $19 million in funding requests but not a single request including a project in a high-opportunity area.

The four projects requests that will receive funding will receive those funds from the $5.5 million set aside for citywide projects and the RDA’s revolving loan fund.  While none of the projects are in an area of high opportunity, staff noted that each project set to receive funds is within a quarter mile of TRAX Station.

The Exchange consists of two buildings at the 300 East block of 400 South.  The council approved $3 million in loans to the project’s developers, Giv Group, for the project’s proposed five-story building that will include 32,700 square feet of co-working and retail space and 126 micro units, 80 of which will be reserved for residents earning up to 40 and 80 percent Area Median Income (AMI).

The city has previously set aside funds to the Exchange’s nine-story building that will include 286 mixed-income units with 15,000 square feet of retail.

RDA staff suggested allocating $1.6 million to the Exchange from the $4.5 million set aside for projects in areas of high opportunities.  Staff argued that the project is within a half block of a high-opportunity area but the council opted to allocate the $1.6 million from the city’s revolving loan fund, expressing a reluctance to use the $4.5 million on projects outside of more prosperous neighborhoods.

Like the Exchange, the Book Cliffs Lodge is well underway.  The Book Cliffs Lodge will be a four-story, 54-unit residential development at the southwest corner of West Temple and Paxton Ave.  Council approved a $2 million low-interest loan to the project’s developers, the Housing Authority of Salt Lake City.

In December 2017, the Salt Lake City Planning Commission approved a Conditional Building and Site Design Review (CBSDR) for the proposed mixed-income development that will provide 45 affordable units and will primarily serve the Native American Community.

Brinshore’s two projects are in the early development stages.  For the State Street site, the Chicago-based developers propose building two towers at 14 and 7 floors respectively with 190 housing units, 76 of which will be income-restricted, and 40,000 square feet of commercial space.  As currently proposed, a public walkway will bisect both towers providing public plaza space and a new pedestrian connection for State Street, Floral Street and Edison Street.

RDA staff also selected Brinshore to redevelop the Overnighter Motel property on North Temple.  The developers plan to replace the motel site with the SPARK!, a proposed five-story, mixed-use project at the 1400 West block of North Temple.  The SPARK! will include 200 housing units, 89 of which will be income restricted.  The project will also include a 10,000 square foot daycare center that will be run by Neighborhood House and 4,000 square feet of ground-floor retail.

RDA staff anticipate it will take at least a year to negotiate the property transfers with Brinshore, meaning the earliest constructed would start on both projects would be in 2020.

Conceptual site plan for the proposed State Street project. Image courtesy Salt Lake City public documents.
Conceptual rendering of the SPARK! as would be seen from North Temple. Image courtesy Salt Lake City public documents.

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