255 South State Street is situated on a prime site in the central business district of downtown Salt Lake City.
KTGY 255 South State Street is situated on a prime site in the central business district of downtown Salt Lake City.

The 2020 U.S. Census showed that Utah grew 18.4%, making it the fastest-growing state in the country. Salt Lake City, the state capital, saw a sizable increase. To keep up with the growing population, city services, including housing, need to grow as well. A team that includes Brinshore Development and architect KTGY is working on a mixed-use destination that focuses on affordability.

Many large metropolitan areas across the U.S., including Salt Lake City, struggle to develop affordable housing. And for some people, a lack of affordable housing leaves them susceptible to homelessness. The challenge for the Salt Lake City Redevelopment Agency (RDA) and others like it around the country is finding ways to overcome economic challenges and securing funding so affordable housing can be developed.

255 South State Street is situated on a prime site in the downtown business district of Salt Lake City. Recently it was the site of a failed development project that had left an eyesore of three to four stories of existing steel frame. It represented a sore point for the city and the RDA and how it utilized funds. Salt Lake City leaders were anxious to move on and repurpose the site.

A Project Reenvisioned

Following the new project team’s award from the request for proposals (RFP), the aim was to synthesize a development effort with a vision to create a vibrant destination and to forge critical local partnerships with Salt Lake City businesses. Improvement was necessary to meet the new RDA RFP’s list of complex requirements to meet its goals for the site. Among the goals was creating a mixed-income community to meet the city initiative of providing additional affordable housing integrated with market-rate housing.

The new development will include two mixed-use towers with 190 units—168 for renters earning between 20% and 80% of the area median income and the remainder market rate. One will be 13 stories, and one will be eight stories. In addition to the two towers, the development will include a public paseo that will lead pedestrians from the urban streetscape through a retail corridor (that will include art) into a sweeping public outdoor space that will host events and be a respite where people can eat and enjoy the outdoors. The meal may come from the development’s largest tenant, a ground-floor food hall.

The historic Cramer House, which was built in 1890, also connects to the public open space. The design intends to preserve the Cramer House’s history and make it a featured element. There are multiple local businesses and nonprofits adjacent to the development that are planning collaborations, including the Salt Lake Film Society, which plans to partner by hosting outdoor films and art installations in the paseo.

Because of the various elements of the project—the food hall, the film society offices, potential outdoor performance, and pop-up markets in the paseo—KTGY envisions the area being a vibrant 24/7 live, work, play, and entertainment environment.

KTGY and the development team have set out to cultivate a 24/7 live/work/play environment through the curation of programs that include an urban paseo, a food hall, pop-up markets, and events that engage the pedestrian realm.
KTGY KTGY and the development team have set out to cultivate a 24/7 live/work/play environment through the curation of programs that include an urban paseo, a food hall, pop-up markets, and events that engage the pedestrian realm.

Not Without Funding

As with all affordable housing, the challenge in getting it built is financing, followed by delivering high-quality, affordable housing on budget. This development has the added challenge of removing the old project and dealing with the conditions that remained on-site. The project team was determined to exceed the expectations of the city and future residents and stay on budget.

Meeting this goal required getting creative both financially and architecturally. The RDA and developer sought financing from an array of sources. Ultimately, approximately 13 different financing sources, including equity, debt, low-income housing tax credits, a seller’s note on the land, an RDA loan, other city and state funding, and Department of Housing and Urban Development project-based vouchers, are what it took to get 255 South State Street moving forward.

Building Decisions

In order to accomplish the ambitious project goals, the first decision the team had to make was determining the ideal building height to maximize unit count but minimize construction costs by avoiding a concrete high-rise structure. Through Design Review, the city supported a height increase to go above the existing height limit, but KTGY still needed to find a cost-effective structural solution. After researching various solutions on the market, the project team ultimately decided to construct the project utilizing the Infinity Structural System to build a 12-story tower.

The Infinity Structural System relies on cast-in-place structural concrete cores for lateral resistance. The overall system is comprised of the Infinity load-bearing walls plus the floor system, which is an epi-core MSR composite deck installed after the walls are constructed. The decks have a welded wire fabric and a concrete topping slab. Once the slab is cured, work on the next level of the wall panels begins, and so on. In some cases, they rely on other forms of lateral resistance, such as concrete shear walls, to supplement.

The walls for the Infinity Structural System are prefabricated off-site. This speeds up the process as it allows a team to build the concrete podium simultaneously, rather than waiting until the podium is ready for the stick-frame elements. This helps to reduce the overall steel erection time through the prefabrication process and, in turn, makes this system more cost-effective. In addition, the structure is relatively light when compared with similar Type I concrete construction, so lateral resistance requirements are reduced, which further helps on the cost side. Ultimately, the Infinity Structural System helped bridge the gap to maximize density while providing a more reasonable cost per square foot to stay on budget.

The second mixed-use, south residential tower is a wood structure that is intentionally kept lower to reduce the shadow impacts on the north building and the paseo, while the taller north building takes advantage of the extra building height afforded by the Infinity Structural System.

It Takes a Village

Developing affordable housing will continue to be a challenge, but it can be overcome with the right team and creativity.

255 South State Street is moving forward because the entities involved are determined to make it happen. The RDA is not only involved in the project financially but was also instrumental in crafting a vision for the site with the RFP brief. By working with the local stakeholders, city agencies, and local tenant partners, the project team has been able to create a development that not only meets the programmatic and budget goals but also meets the needs of the local community.

A site that was once viewed as an eyesore is in the midst of a redesign that goes far beyond the original plan. Soon the site will be a thriving mixed-use development that provides much-needed affordable housing in one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. The south tower is slated for completion by the end of the year, and the north tower by spring 2023.