If you have ever considered expanding or relocating your business to Salt Lake City, now is the time to do it. You may be surprised at the amount of local and national support available to support your project as well as the progress that is being made in these neighborhoods! This week’s highlight is Salt Lake City’s Central Business District – the Cultural Core of our City.

Throughout the last decade, downtown has seen a significant increase in development.  Thanks to the shared vision and sustained efforts of stakeholders, downtown is making a comeback as Utah’s center for innovation and prosperity. It truly is remarkable to see what has been accomplished within this amount of time – over 2 million square feet of new office space, 10,000 new residential units, two new dynamic entertainment centers (Eccles Theater/Regent Street and Vivint/Gateway), improved retail and a thriving restaurant scene, an upgraded sports arena, and one of the nation’s best transportation networks.

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SLC Downtown Rising
In this gif using images and renderings provided by the Downtown Alliance and Bowen Studios, a view is seen of how Salt Lake City’s skyline is expected to change in a few short years, with the addition of half-dozen multi-story buildings, including several residential towers and a hotel.

The Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City (RDA)’s guiding plans for its Central Business District Project Area that encompasses much of downtown call for strengthening the City’s tax base through economic development and growth. These efforts are providing for new commercial and affordable housing development, as well as rehabilitation of existing downtown buildings.

Within the Central Business District Project Area’s 266 acres, which are bounded by North Temple and 500 South, and by 400 West and 200 East, the RDA generates tax increment from a selected 100 acres that is invested back into the area in the form of redevelopment projects. Such projects within the boundaries of the Central Business District Project Area as shown below in purple, are eligible to apply for RDA loan funds and tax increment reimbursement:

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Overlap with RDA Project Areas, Opportunity Zones

The majority of the RDA Central Business District Project Area overlaps with a Salt Lake City opportunity zone, a temporary tax deferral for capital gains reinvested. What does that mean for you? By taking on a project in the Central Business District Project Area, or the downtown-adjacent Depot District Project Area, you have the opportunity to apply for the (local) RDA’s loan and tax reimbursement programs as well as the (national) opportunity zone incentive. It’s what you might call a “double dip” but time is running out on these programs and we encourage you to act soon.

The idea is that these programs financially support the improvement of existing facilities in order to retain jobs, or add facilities to create more jobs for our economy. Our team is here to help you navigate all of these programs and answer any questions.

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Interest in the Central Business District is high, and the community’s vision is being implemented. Here are some exciting projects happening now using RDA financial tools:

255 S. State Street – New Affordable Housing

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The incomplete structure (an eyesore of steel girders and graffiti) that occupied the space at 255 S. State is finally resolved, thanks to the leadership of our talented RDA team. The team set forth a vision for affordable workforce housing, submitting an RFQ for experienced developers to propose a concept for a mixed-use, mixed-income affordable housing project on the 1.1-acre site. The project was awarded to Brinshore Development, LLC and will include approximately 190 residential units, with 80% designated as deed-restricted affordable housing. It will also include 20,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial, resident amenity space and a publicly accessible midblock walkway. The developer will preserve and rehabilitate the property’s historic Cramer House, as well as make subterranean parking improvements. Groundbreaking is slated for early 2020.

In total, the RDA Board of Directors has approved $13.4 million in funding for the $70 million project, drawing from the RDA’s Loan Program and Affordable Housing Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA).

Block 67 and Japantown

The area bounded by South Temple, State Street, 300 South, and 700 West was the core of the Japanese American community beginning in the early 1900’s. The flourishing Japantown area was largely dismantled by the construction of the Salt Palace in the 1960’s. Since then, the City and County have worked with the Japanese American community to support the revitalization of the area, including officially recognizing Japantown Street as a cultural district in 2007. The Street, the north side of Block 67 and the remaining heart of the Japanese American community, is where you will find the Japanese Church of Christ and Salt Lake Buddhist Temple. These churches sponsor festivals throughout the year and are passionate about creating a renaissance for Japantown as a cultural and economic asset for the City in partnership with the Japanese Community Preservation Committee.

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Block 67 is of locational importance within the downtown core. It has seen limited to no new development for several decades and has a significant amount of underutilized and vacant land. A local developer has proposed plans to develop much of Block 67 through the West Quarter Project, which  includes retail, residential, and office space. The Japanese American community expressed concerns about the development and requested that the West Quarter Project consider the enhancement and revitalization of Japantown. The Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City (RDA) answered the call through an RFP to reach qualified landscape architecture, urban design, land use planning, and community engagement specialists to produce design concepts, schematics, and design guidelines for streetscape improvements and placemaking to retain Japantown’s stake in our community and history.

Paperbox Lofts

In March, ground broke on the site of Downtown’s former Utah Paperbox production warehouse to make way for the forthcoming Paperbox Lofts mixed-use development, which will feature 39 units of affordable housing, public open space, and mid-block connections to both 200 South and 300 West. The RDA originally purchased the property as part of a negotiation with the owners of Utah Paperbox to relocate to a larger site within the City’s Glendale neighborhood that was being used as a noxious tire-recycling facility. The RDA’s selection of Paperbox Lofts co-developers—PEG and Clearwater Homes—gave way to a collaborative design that utilized the parcel’s unique location on the interior of the large Downtown block. In exchange for substantial infrastructure improvements made by the developers, the RDA provided a $3.2 million land write-down. This is the first project in Salt Lake City to feature a “carstacker” parking lift system, which will accommodate 108 cars on seven levels.

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Want more information about the Central Business District?  We’re here to help. Phone: (801) 535-7200 or Email: ed@slcgov.com.