Housing Boom-Light Rail

Hawthorne Townhomes is a new 220-unit residential project on West Temple and 2852 South in Salt Lake City, seen Tuesday, Dec. 17.

SOUTH SALT LAKE (AP) — The light rail line that cuts through the suburb of South Salt Lake has fueled a residential housing boom in the last four years.

More than 2,800 apartments, town houses and other homes have been built near TRAX lines and stations since 2015, The Salt Lake Tribune reports. The city of 25,000 residents stretches over just seven square miles (18 square kilometers).

Next on the horizon is a major new development in South Salt Lake’s center that is expected to include a six-story office tower and a 10-story apartment building. The $285 million project, which broke ground in October, will also include a hotel, stores, offices and a parking garage for 800 vehicles.

“This is so clearly not the South Salt Lake I grew up in,” said Mayor Cherie Wood, a lifelong resident.

The city’s building boom is a prime example of how many Utah cities are trying to surround public transit lines with high-density apartment complexes, town houses and retail developments to encourage residents to leave their cars at home and reduce air pollution. The housing developments can also offer affordable housing options.

“It’s really astounding to see the amount of transit-oriented development that is happening via market forces and city planning,” said Cameron Diehl, executive director of Utah League of Cities and Towns.

Some of the developments have happened because South Salt Lake city leaders made zoning changes allowing housing in areas where only industrial businesses were permitted before.

One example is a gated community that includes 219 stacked, flat-style apartments that are between 1,300-2,000 square feet (120-185 square meters). The apartment complex sits on 20 acres (8.1 hectares) in a former industrial zone that was home to a company that built blocks.

The city has generated increase demand from residents and businesses because it has available land and is still close to Salt Lake City, real estate developers said.

That is one reason why Beehive Distilling decided to open in South Salt Lake, said co-owner and head distiller Chris Barlow.

“They have a high push for a live-work, walkable center with an urban industrial feel,” Barlow said, “and that made it an area we were interested in.”

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