Updated South Temple project fails to impress Landmark Commission

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Updated renderings of the Hardison Apartments. Image courtesy Salt Lake City Planning Division.
Updated renderings of the Hardison Apartments. Image courtesy Salt Lake City Planning Division.
Updated renderings of the Hardison Apartments. Image courtesy Salt Lake City Planning Division.

Despite presenting a modified design, the developers of the Hardison Apartments, a proposed mixed-use development at the intersection of 500 East and South Temple, will have to reevaluate their plans for the south temple lot.  During its January meeting, the Historic Landmark Commission denied a petition from Garbett Homes, the project’s developers.

The developers were requesting a special exception to the required rear-yard setbacks, height restrictions and approval to build in the South Temple Local Historic District, the stretch of South Temple between 300 East and University Avenue.

This was the second time in two months that the developers went before the commission.  Developers went before the HLC last month, with the commission tabling the project to a future meeting after the commission requested several design changes including materials, scale and street engagement.  In both meetings, commission members were concerned about the building’s scale and building materials.

The project’s architects, CRSA, made adjustments to the design based on feedback from the December commission meeting.  Architects altered the design of the building from a “U” shape to more an “H” shape which city planners noted fit more into the neighborhood and reduced the building’s scale along South Temple.  Architects also increased the ground floor commercial space, which was to front South Temple, by extending it further south on 500 East.

The project’s proposed height remained unchanged at six floors with five floors of residential above ground floor parking and commercial space.  As proposed, the project includes 166 units that consist of mostly one-bedroom units with some studios and two-bedroom units available.  Plans for the parking structure consist of 212 stalls on three floors tucked behind ground-floor commercial and two floors of residential.

Developers planned to include a courtyard on the second level and a rooftop terrace on the fourth floor, both facing the street.  The architect’s original design had both amenities located at the project’s center with residential units fronting the open space.  Planners requested that these amenities front the street level to reduce the building’s scale and make the project interact more at the street level.

The project is zoned R-MU, residential mixed-use, which allows for a maximum height of 75 feet.  Because the project is on a slope, the south end of the building reaches a height of 82 feet from ground level.  Developers also needed a height variance for two stairways and an ADA accessible ramp that exceed height limits in the rear-yard setback.

The developers can appeal the commission’s decision or reapply with new designs.  Even if the developers don’t need zoning variances, approval will still be needed from the commission to build in the South Temple Local Historic District.

Rendering of the Hardison Apartments. Image by CRSA Architecture..
Previous rendering of the Hardison Apartments. Image by CRSA Architecture..
About Isaac Riddle 630 Articles

Isaac Riddle grew up just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. He has a BA in English literature from the University of Utah and a Masters of Journalism from Temple University. Isaac has written for
Next City, The Philadelphia Public School Notebook and Salt Lake City Weekly. Before embarking on a career in journalism, Isaac taught High School English in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. Isaac is the founder of Building Salt Lake and can be reached at isaac@buildingsaltlake.com.

  • Newcastle

    It still does not have the set backs that every other building has on South Temple with the exception of the bakery. There is no way they should be allowed to build that thing.

  • sixranges

    I think both designs are pretty hum-drum, particularly the way they address the street. South Temple is home to SLC’s most distinctive buildings (Cathedral of the Madeline, the First Presbyterian Church, LDS Business College, the Fred Moreton Building, the Masonic Temple, the Governor’s Mansion, and countless other post-war buildings), and they all have a very engaging street presence. This is the standard! New development should be held to it!

  • Matt Miller

    The setback is important, but the Sinclair oil building manages to be ugly and out of place, regardless.

  • Matt Miller

    Previous design looked like standard New Urbanism. New design looks like bad Modernism. The height limit is the problem. Both the Meredith apartment building and the old Hotel Utah are over 75′ and nobody claims they look ugly. The apartment at 800 East is over 10 stories tall, and it’s not bad looking either.

  • Newcastle

    You talking about the Sinclair office or the Governors Plaza Condos behind it? The office building looks fine to me especially with all the plantings, that 11 story condo behind it leaves much to be desired.

  • Will

    There are far too many projects all using this same tired and boring design. Allowing this project to be placed on South Temple would be a huge mistake.

  • Jordan T

    Downtown Salt Lake has some really hideous apartment buildings. I wish we had a lot nicer apartment buildings like what they have in Austin, San Diego, and Portland, but unfortunately we have a bunch of cheap asses designing things.

  • Matt Miller

    Developers start with a spreadsheet, not a building. If the financials look decent (profitability), then they optimize the mix of uses and units that maximizes profits (minimal costs, maximum revenue). They provide that prof-forma to an architect, who designs a building that will hold all the uses/units in the pro-forma. What is designed typically exceeds the then-legal physical envelope (height, setbacks) or regulatory requirements (parking and zoning), they try for a variance to the laws, or (riskier) a re-zone. If those fail, they start cutting units and uses, and re-configuring their arrangement. In the meant-time, another part of the development team is trying to persuade lenders to provide money, a negotiation that goes on in-time with the building negotiations. Developers rarely buy land up front. Typically, they buy an option to buy a parcel for a set-price within a set period of time. If nothing gets approved, the option expires, and the land-owner is a few thousand dollars richer.

  • Matt Miller

    Blame height limits and parking ratios.

  • Jordan T

    Portland has some pretty incredible stuff going up in the Pearl District, Moda Center area, and the South Waterfront. The people in Salt Lake are about as clueless as they come. The business and city leaders ought to be proud of themselves.