Former Salt Lake County mayor moves to build mid-density rental units in Salt Lake City's Liberty Wells

Former Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon’s real estate group is looking to create a mid-density rental project in the heart of Salt Lake City’s Liberty Wells neighborhood.

Corroon, who became president of Sentry Financial in 2017, is looking to build seven units on a third-acre parcel at 400 E. Cleveland (about 1430 South). For context, many Liberty Wells neighborhoods include about six to eight units per acre, depending on the block.

Corroon is hoping the city will up-zone the parcel, citing the need for housing that’s affordable to those making near-median wages and pointing to dozens of nearby properties that include developments that are at least as dense as his Cleveland Court proposes to be.

“In light of the housing needs of Salt Lake City and, specifically, the Liberty Wells neighborhood, Sentry concluded that a slightly larger project (seven units instead of five) with smaller, more affordable units, would be a much better use of the Property,” Corroon wrote in documents recently submitted for review by the planning commission.

The project, which would replace a now-demolished single-family home, has been long in the works. Sentry took over the project after the former owner was unable to move ahead, according to city documents. 

Initially, the project would have consisted of five units on the 0.33-acre parcel. Sentry is looking to build seven units, all but one including off-street parking.

One-bedroom units would be 673 square feet and 1,341 square feet for three-bedroom units. Rent is expected to start at $1,000 for a one-bedroom or $2,200 for a three-bedroom. (The documents don’t specify what a two-bedroom unit would cost, and developers weren’t immediately available for comment).

“Although not affordable by everyone, these rental prices fall within the affordability range for potential tenants at approximately 80%o to 100% of Area Median Income,” Corroon wrote in the application. 

That means anyone making between $44,800 to about $60,000 without spending more than 30 percent of their monthly earnings on housing costs. And while the city (and region) needs housing that’s affordable to low-income renters, it also needs housing for all income brackets.

The rent in Corroon’s proposal is less expensive than the original project, which would have included rents at $2,000 for a one-bedroom and $3,000 for a three-bedroom.

Typically in neighborhoods that are dominated by single-family homes, residents take to their community councils to oppose new housing development. Corroon, who has already presented a version of the project to the Liberty Wells Community Council, seems to have anticipated that.

He pointed out in his recent application that at least 44 properties within three blocks of the parcel have four or more units on them. Ten of those properties have eight or more units on lots that are smaller than Corroon’s.

The developers are moving to ask the city to change the lot’s zoning to FB-UN1, which doesn’t require off-street parking. Still, they’d build the optional private parking for six of the seven units now planned in the small development.

Because they’re asking for the zoning change, and for smaller lot setbacks for the front, rear and garage, this process will begin with the city’s planning department and will likely take months.

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