Commission approves downtown senior housing project

The west face of the John Florez Manor senior housing. Image courtesy Salt Lake City planning documents.

More affordable housing is coming to downtown Salt Lake’s western edge.  On Wednesday, the Salt Lake City Planning Commission approved a Conditional Building and Site Design Review for an affordable senior housing development by Centro Civico, a nonprofit serving the Hispanic community in the Salt Lake Valley.

The project approved last night will be the first of two phases in Centro Civico’s plans to redevelop their campus on the 100 South block of 600 West.  The first phase will consist of a six-story, 61-unit apartment building on a vacant 0.38-acre parcel.   The second phase will the redevelopment of the organization’s campus building and will include retail space, classrooms, a black-box theater, museum, art gallery, a plaza, office space and an athletic complex.

Aerial map of the Centro Civico block. Image courtesy Salt Lake City planning documents.

Peter Corroon, representing Centro Civico, went before the planning commission in July for a work session with commission members.  During that meeting commission members expressed concerns about a building’s west face which they argued created too much of a wall and lacked street engagement and vibrancy.

Corroon argued that because of the energy efficient elements of the proposed building, window restrictions are needed to ensure the building doesn’t get too warm.  To address the wall effect and street engagement, Centro Civico proposes to enhanced streetscape elements that will include public art and landscaping along the west face.

Representatives from Centro Civico referenced a previous meeting with city council members acting as the board of directors for the Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City, in which the council members requested a mid-block walkway be incorporated into the project.  The Centro Civico representatives argued that a mid-block walkway would now be impossible because the newly completed, Alta Gateway Station development takes up almost the entire east-face of the block.

To create street level activity, Centro Civico is planning on shortening or removing entirely the fence along 600 West.  The second phase is intended to engage the street level as a cultural campus inspired by the town squares common in many Mexican cities.

The project will have a unit mix of studio, one and two bedroom apartments. The project’s 43 affordable housing units will be reserved for residents earning between 25 and 50 percent Area Median Income (AMI).   Rents for the affordable units will range between $285 and $784, depending on the AMI and size of the unit.

The project will have a low parking ratio with almost three units per parking stall.  The developers argue that the because of the project’s intended population and proximity to TRAX, more parking isn’t necessary.  The senior housing building will be less than one block from the Greektown TRAX station, one block from the Intermodal Hub and two blocks from the Planetarium TRAX station.

In general, commission members responded favorably with design revisions for the ground floor and the inclusion of conceptual renderings of the project’s second phase.

Any public art will need to be reviewed by the Salt Lake Art Design Board.

The west face of the John Florez Manor senior housing. Image courtesy Salt Lake City planning documents.
Conceptual rendering of the first and second phases of the proposed Centro Civico campus project. Image courtesy Salt Lake City planning documents.

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