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Salt Lake City Working On Small-Scale Construction Projects To Help Affordable Housing

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — There’s a lot a redevelopment going on in downtown Salt Lake City, and apartment complexes under construction.

Affordable housing is still a major challenge for many individuals and families.

The Salt Lake City Redevelopment Authority is working with a national nonprofit that specializes in educating a new kind of developer.

The style of development is called incremental development. There are budding examples of it in the Central Ninth neighborhood, the Marmalade District, and other Salt Lake City neighborhoods.

The key to incremental development is small scale construction, keeping the character of a neighborhood, rather than rebuilding one block at a time.

“I love where I live and I want it to get better,” said Jarod Hall who recently developed a fourplex about a block from where he lives.

“You have the ability to know your neighbors, since it’s only four to six people in your building,” he said. “You also start getting enough density that a small convenience store can survive.”

“We’re looking at things that are one to three stories, that are going to be maybe 2 to 20 units. It can be mixed use,“ said Brandon Dayton, a community advocate who helped coordinate a lecture with one of the founders of the Incremental Development Alliance.

Not that different from traditional Main Street, but, with an updated look.

“Small scale development gives us another tool to address that housing issue, to relieve some of those pressures,” said Dayton.

While at the same time improving the neighborhood.

“It’s a different focus in scale, finance, temperament, and local advantage, because you’re plugged into that local community,“ said John Anderson, one of the founders of the Incremental Development Alliance.

Many new developments nationwide and in Salt Lake take up a half block, with 50 to 300 units.

“Concrete on the first floor. Four to five stories of stick construction, elevators, and a pretty expensive building which turns into fairly expensive rents,” said Anderson.

The incremental development alliance trains smaller developers to carry out smaller developments, like a duplex or a fourplex. Sharing tools to help address the affordable housing crisis.

“You’re building wealth,” said Anderson. “You’re creating jobs in your local neighborhood at a modest scale.“

Large-scale projects require large-scale capital. Smaller projects can be built with smaller loans and offer more affordable rents.

“The more expensive the approach to construction, the less affordable the individual units are going to be,“ he said.

Smaller-scale projects also enable beginning developers like Hall to risk less.

“You have to do the math and see how much stuff is selling for, or renting for then take a little risk,” said Hall. “It was awesome.“

“You can be someone who loves your neighborhood, wants it to be better and with the right tools you can start making a difference and start making those changes,” said Dayton.

Anderson will be back next month to put on a workshop. Contact the Salt Lake City RDA about getting involved.

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