New building proposal seeks to triple height of Sugar House buildings

Nov 28, 2023, 7:14 PM | Updated: 8:06 pm

SUGAR HOUSE — A new proposal could pave the way for some very tall buildings to be allowed in the Sugar House area of Salt Lake City.

Out-of-state developer, Harbor Bay Ventures, is asking for some zoning changes that could triple the height of the buildings currently allowed in the area’s urban center.

As reported by Building Salt Lake, the proposal seeks to allow for a 305-foot-tall building so long as they use sustainable materials. The tallest buildings allowed for by current zoning rules in Sugar House are 105 feet.

“Three-hundred feet is going to be prominent from pretty much anywhere in the valley,” said Nick Norris, Salt Lake City planning director.

The city’s planning commission will review the application and ultimately make recommendations to the city council, who votes on whether to approve the zoning changes.

“What they’re proposing is to basically create a new zoning district for a single parcel of land in Sugar House,” Norris said. He suspects it won’t come without some heartburn from residents.

“It’s such a significant change to what people are used to,” he said. “I mean, Sugar House has changed a lot over the last 10 or 15 years. And that in and of itself is has been shocking to a lot of people.”

Harbor Bay hasn’t released any specific plans for how tall or exactly what they plan to build. Housing experts say it’s likely to include retail on the bottom and housing above it. Norris’ division is now tasked with evaluating whether the public benefit justifies the height.

“We know that Sugar House has a need for affordable housing, particularly at the very low end. And so that’s going to be a significant look that will take a, you know, community benefit that we are likely to say should be something that’s included that I don’t think they’ve included that right now,” he said.

“There are some sustainability types of things that they’ve proposed that are included, which are great. But whether that community benefit is significant enough to justify that change is a whole ‘another story.”

The city says its had the application for less than a week, and it starts its process by evaluating whether there is the infrastructure, like pipes, fire department accessibility, or sewer systems, for a building like that. Then, there’s a lengthy public process that starts with a 45-day public input period to notify the community.

“Those comments all become part of the process that will be considered not just by the planning staff who ultimately will make a recommendation to the planning commission, and then the planning commission will hold a public hearing,” Norris said.

Then, the zoning change would need the approval of the city council and mayor. Norris said it could take a year before there’s anything approved. But the fact that the developer submitted the proposal, Norris said, signals they want change.

“I think people should expect that, you know, they are planning on doing something pretty big and tall,” Norris said.

He recommends that anyone who wants to weigh in should plan to attend those forthcoming public planning or city council meetings which have yet to be scheduled.

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New building proposal seeks to triple height of Sugar House buildings