SALT LAKE CITY — More details of a major, six-building development on the block directly south of Trolley Square have been submitted as the proposal inches forward after more than 11 months of review.
Some Central City neighbors aren't thrilled about the scale of the project, while others see it as an opportunity to pump new life into the historic shopping center.
"There's some excitement, but certainly a lot of wariness," said Michael Iverson, Central City Neighborhood Council chairman. "There's excitement to get more housing in the area and to help revitalize Trolley Square, but trepidation about the size, historical district and the design."
Trolley Square owner and developer Khosrow Semnani has received two favorable recommendations from the Salt Lake City Planning Commission on a request to rezone 3.5 acres on the 600 South block of 700 East.
The proposal to build six multistory buildings — with apartments, shops, a boutique hotel and underground parking — is scheduled to be considered Thursday by Salt Lake City's Historic Landmark Commission.
The buildings would range between four and five stories, and replace three single-family homes and a parking lot, according to planning documents.
Plans say buildings A and B, a four-story boutique hotel and a mixed-use retail apartment complex, would "be of high design" and "reflect the architectural style" of the Territorial Exposition Hall, which was designed by Utah Capitol architect Richard K.A. Kletting and once stood where Trolley Square is now.
A building that would face 700 East, building C, would be a four-story apartment complex. Building D would be a five-story apartment complex, with access from an interior street connecting 600 South and 700 East.
Another four-story structure, building E, would be accessed by the interior street and have two floors of apartments above two floors of parking.
The sixth building, building F, would sit at the southeast corner of 600 South and 600 East. It's also proposed to be a four-story apartment with two floors of parking.
In an interview Friday, Semnani said plans are far from being final, and he didn't have an estimate of how many units each apartment complex or the hotel would house.
Semnani did say, however, that some units are planned to be set aside for affordable housing, though he did not know how many.
"What it's going to look like in the end is hard to say," Semnani said, adding that he's still working with the neighborhood to develop designs.
"It's a project that really is not as much mine as it is the neighborhood's," he said. "We all want to have input so it's going to turn out to be something that everyone takes pride in."
Semnani said the project will breathe new life into the neighborhood, which lost its vibrancy after The Gateway shopping center opened downtown in 2001. Semnani bought Trolley Square in 2013 after it fell into receivership.
"Really, the whole neighborhood has been somewhat neglected for many years now," the Trolley Square owner said. "The whole place needs a facelift. I hope this will turn out to be a viable, beautiful asset to the neighborhood."
Iverson said the Central City Neighborhood Council hasn't yet voted to take a formal position on the project, but he said he's received a wide range of feedback from neighbors.
Some, he said, worry about height, scale and design of the buildings, while others lament the destruction of the three single-family homes. Some are also concerned that the structures would detract from the neighborhood's historical character, Iverson said.
Parking is also a concern, he said, because there's no stated requirement for how many spaces per unit.
But Iverson credited Semnani for working with the neighborhood council, adding that he's confident they'll come up with more prefered details and designs.
"The No. 1 thing we hear is we need more housing, so there are certainly some pluses," Iverson said. "And there's no love lost over the dilapidated parking lot being replaced with housing. People are generally quite happy about that."
Iverson said discussions are continuing with Semnani, and he urged residents to attend the 5:30 p.m. Thursday meeting at the Salt Lake City-County Building, 451 S. State, as well as a later meeting when the City Council will decide on the zoning amendment.
"I don't think we're at a place now where the community is going to overwhelmingly support it, but I think we can get there," he said.