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Laura Seitz, Deseret News
The groundbreaking event for The Plaza at State Street takes place in Salt Lake City on Friday, May 11, 2012. The Plaza at State Street will provide housing options for downtown's employees and local residents. The project will add to the diversity of downtown Salt Lake City, with the addition of both 44 market rate units and 136 affordable housing units creating a total of 180 new residential units in the area.
There's going to be another opportunity for high-density living, which is another thing Salt Lake City is so proud of. —Kyle LaMalfa, Salt Lake City Councilman

SALT LAKE CITY — Developers, lenders and government officials broke ground Friday on The Plaza at State Street, a $31.5 million residential and commercial development.

The development along the 200 block of State Street will include 180 residential apartments, including 136 affordable units and 44 units to be rented at market rates.

The options range from studio units to four bedroom apartments. A studio apartment for someone who earns 35 percent of the area's average median income will rent for about $370 a month. Meanwhile, the market rate for a four-bedroom apartment is anticipated to be about $1,500 a month.

The main development also includes 29,000 square feet of commercial space.

"Is this just another apartment project? I don't think so," said Grant Whitaker, president and CEO of Utah Housing Corp., a public corporation created by the Utah Legislature to raise funds to aid the creation of affordable housing for low-income Utahns.

The Plaza, Whitaker said, would "finish out the redevelopment (along the east side of State Street) all the way to 600 South."

The project is expected to be completed in about 18 months, with the construction creating 250 jobs, said Ben Logue, president of LaPorte Group, the developer of the project.

The concept was two years in the making.

The Plaza will "complement City Creek," by providing housing, retail, office and theater space. The project will include two levels of underground parking, an indoor swimming pool and will incorporate solar technologies. The development will be Energy Star- and LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-certified.

At the same time, it will embrace the historical architecture of the area, recreating the façade of the Rex Theater and rehabilitating the historic Cramer House.

Logue said the project was made possible through a collaboration of private, federal, state and local government interests.

"We're tickled pink. It's lovely," Logue said prior to the groundbreaking.

The project will provide needed housing in an area of town already energized by the development of the City Creek Center project.

"This is urban living," Logue said, noting that the development envisions a coffee shop, restaurants and other services.

The total cost of the residential/commercial development and associated improvements — some 18,000 square feet of additional commercial and street improvements — pushes the project total to $38 million, Logue said.

Gordon Walker, director of the Utah Division of Housing and Community Development, said The Plaza at State Street was aided by the development of permanent, supportive housing for homeless people at Palmer Court. That development, at 999 S. Main, has become home to many of the people who previously lived in dilapidated single-residency occupancy units along the block.

Salt Lake City Councilman Kyle LaMalfa, chairman of the Salt Lake City Redevelopment Agency, said the development will be a boon to dowtown Salt Lake as a walkable neighborhood.

"There's going to be another opportunity for high-density living, which is another thing Salt Lake City is so proud of," he said.

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