It's blowin' up, Part 7: Non-profit housing developer rolls out land-trust model, looking to lower the cost of ownership near N Temple

In a neighborhood sliced by interstate highway corridors and freight rail lines, yet sitting on generous transit station area zoning, an unconventional townhome project was approved by the Planning Commission last week at 1000 W and 200 S.

The project, by Neighborworks Salt Lake, will provide rare for-sale missing-middle housing. It also proposes to “essentially cut the cost of a home in half” – by owning the land through a community land trust. It will lease the ground long-term for a nominal fee to homeowners, who will only have to borrow for the costs of construction. 

The goal is to make the units “significantly and permanently affordable.”

The four-building project is notable for other reasons. It bucks the trend of developers maxing out the development potential of their sites – at just under 30 units per acre, its height reaches only 37 feet out of 50 allowed in the zoning.

Its planned development application also pretty much ignored the points system used to guide development in TSA zoning, scoring only 88 out of the 125 needed to streamline the approval process. 

Let’s look at the project, tentatively called Euclid Corners, and some of the other activities of the non-profit developer behind it.

Euclid Corners – or “Malt Air Lane”?

At 1012 W 200 S, the project proposal has been around for a while. Designed by locals Carpenter Stringham Architects, it was originally approved by the Planning Commission five years ago, in 2017, but permits were never issued for construction. 

The 16-unit project (eight of the units are 3-bdrm, eight 2-bdrm) will sit on .53 acres on what is currently a vacant lot. Each unit has a front stoop and porch. The 3-bedroom homes also enjoy a private rooftop patio.

The property was the location, at least until 1970, of a bowling alley called Maltair Lanes – a reference to the florid west winds from the Fisher Brewery that was once not far away on the Jordan River. Rob Roake, COO of Neighborworks Salt Lake, told the Planning Commission that in a nod to the Euclid neighborhood’s past, the developers are considering the name “Maltair Lane” for the project.

Parking (24 stalls) will be three-quarters underground, with private garages for each unit. The project will incorporate 5756 square feet of interior courtyard space, an amount exceeding the open space allowed in the TSA-UN-T zone. 

The project sought adjustments through a planned development process to alter six zoning requirements, including front- and side-yard setbacks, a landscape buffer, lots without street frontage, permitted open space, and the amount of required glass on buildings facing the street.

As far as affordability goes, units will be offered to families making between 60% and 120% AMI. Neighborworks offers below-market mortgages to people who can’t qualify for conventional debt financing, as well as forgivable down-payment assistance.

Neighborworks: What they do

Incorporated in 1977 as Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS), Neighborworks Salt Lake (NWSL) is a non-profit corporation that as a federally-certified Community Development Financing Institution (CDFI), makes it a preferred partner of local banks looking to comply with the Community Reinvestment Act.

Located in the Guadalupe neighborhood of Salt Lake City, Neighborworks’ list of capacities is impressive. 

Besides developing properties, they provide community-based “human capital” development in the form of the Westside Leadership Institute (a partnership with University Neighborhood Partners) and the YouthWorks program, which employs at-risk youth in neighborhood improvement activities like “Paint Your Heart Out,” which provides home improvement assistance to moderate-income west side residents.

There are very few developers who invest in human capital as much as brick and mortar capital; the long term sustainability of neighborhoods rely on the development of human capital.

– Maria Garciaz, CEO of NeighborWorks Salt Lake

Neighborworks Salt Lake is also a residential lender, offering first and second mortgages at below-market rates “for individuals who are unable to secure financing through traditional channels (folks who might have credit issues or who don’t have a credit track record or a high FICO score),” CEO Maria Garciaz told us in an email.

For families unable to come up with a full down payment, Garciaz also noted that NWSL also offers grants “up to $15,000 as a forgivable loan over a five year period to help with down payment and closing costs.”

NWSL also acts as a “convener” of residents, businesses, and government on the city’s west side, and is currently expanding into Murray. 

It helps run the west side chamber of commerce, known as the River District Business Alliance, under its rubric of “community-based economic development.”

How? “House by house, block by block”

While one of their earliest involvements in the city was in the Central City neighborhood, there’s no question that the west side has been the pond that has most nurtured Neighborworks’ growth.

To see how their mantra of revitalization “house by house, block by block” has been implemented, one has to look no further than the Guadalupe neighborhood, just NW of Downtown.

A lilypad of a neighborhood, Guadalupe runs from the train tracks at 500 W to 700 W (I-15), 600 N (the UDOT bridge and I-15 interchange) south to North Temple.

Guadalupe grew up along with the railroad, as did much of this original transportation spine of the city, the north-south rail corridor along 500 W. 

It then suffered mightily the growth of the automobile and the irreparable wound made by the vertical cut of Interstate I-15 in the 1960s and 70s.

Severed from the rest of the west side by the Interstate, it became an inner-city neighborhood plagued by the usual suspects of redlining by banks, general disinvestment, and demolition of abandoned properties.

The new Boys & Girls Club in Guadalupe, on 600 N just north of N Temple. Photos by Luke Garrott.

That’s when Neighborworks got involved.

Maria Garciaz points to their Guadalupe efforts as emblematic of what the organization tries to do. 

By 1995, according to NWSL, nearly one-third of the dwellings in Guadalupe were boarded or blighted. “Vacant parcels throughout the community were dumping grounds for litter and abandoned cars,” Garciaz wrote in an email. 

“We moved into the neighborhood and developed all the vacant land, rehabbed the homes that need some TLC, worked with SLC government to replace curb and gutter.” 

NWSL projects have rebuilt Rendon, Argyle, and Hodges in the Guadalupe neighborhood. Photos by Luke Garrott.

They built 52 units of new housing, while rehabbing others and providing a series of home ownership supports to moderate-income families.

Right up against the Interstate, NWSL rebuilt a full two blocks of single-family housing along both sides of Rendon and Argyle Courts, between 200 and 400 N.  See a video of Argyle Court here.

All the homes are designed in a style to fit the neighborhood’s origin in the late 1800s and early 20th century. Notably, they all have front porches.

In addition, along 600 W a number of historic homes were rehabilitated and new ones built, all in the style of the neighborhood. According to Garciaz, 75% of the homes in the neighborhood are owner-occupied, and crime has been significantly reduced thanks to community collaborations.

Along the North Temple transit corridor, Guadalupe – a former inner-city, distressed, red-lined neighborhood – has turned into a stable, attractive place – a “neighborhood of choice,” as NWSL puts it. Might other neighborhoods along near the corridor see similar sustainable reinvestment?

You get what you zone for

Not likely, at least in the comprehensive manner that NWSL rehabilitated Guadalupe. The difference will come down to a simple factor: zoning.

The TSA zoning along the North Temple corridor has attracted investors, and land cost is reaching $150/sf on large parcels close to Downtown.

The difference in the futures of the two neighborhoods discussed here – Euclid and Guadalupe – lies significantly in the long-term intervention from Neighborworks Salt Lake, to be sure.

But that sustained reinvestment in housing and home ownership can’t be severed from the zoning of the land.

The zoning on Rendon, Argyle, and Hodges is SR-3, allowing the compact single-family development pattern desired by the developers.

The center spine of the neighborhood, north of 200 N, is zoned single-family. That line is drawn quite starkly at 200 N and 600 W, where The 319-unit Kozo apartments will rise to to 67 feet across the street from single-family structures.

To the east, closer to Downtown, transit zoning exists along 500 W. There, Giv Communities has built several multi-family, mixed-income projects.

The Euclid neighborhood, on the west side of the Interstate and south of N Temple, is hemmed in by Interstates on two sides and the sprawling gas company campus to its west.

Euclid is completely covered by transit zoning, most of it “Transition,” while “Core” reserved for blocks closest to Trax stations. Even though many single-family structures are still extant, they are unlikely to survive development pressures for long.

Zoning in Euclid (west of Interstate) and Guadalupe (east of Interstate).

The upward pressure on land cost in TSA-zoned blocks along the N Temple corridor is the main reason non-profit and government entities are struggling to provide provide affordable and sustainable housing solutions for moderate-income families.

Indeed, NWSL’s Garciaz emphasized that land cost was a main barrier to the non-profit fulfilling its mission.

Unfortunately, Neighborworks’ Euclid Corners may be a rare island of affordability and ownership in the current frenzy of development along the North Temple corridor.

Email Luke Garrott

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