The on-again, off-again Marmalade Block development project located between 500 North and 600 North along the east side of 300 West is definitely on again, and this time looks much more likely to come to fruition.
After languishing for the past few years, we may finally see the property come to life this fall with a formal ground-breaking for the new Marmalade Library, which will serve as the anchor for the proposed development. (see artist’s rendering above, map of property below)
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The four acre property, owned by The Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City, was originally to be developed by Howa Construction along with their development on the west side of 300 West and 600 North. But, while in the planning and early development stages for several years from roughly 2006 to 2009, the plans for the east side of the street finally fell apart due to the recession.
According to a 2010 article in the Salt Lake Tribune, “Howa [Construction] had an option to purchase the four acres on the east side from the Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City, but the recession intervened. Rick Howa said that after it became clear that his original plan — 82 condominiums and nine townhomes, priced from the low $300,000s to high $600,000s — wasn’t going to work, he still tried to make a deal with the RDA to do something of a retail nature, such as build a grocery store.
But he said he couldn’t come to an agreement with the agency, whose board is the Salt Lake City Council. As a result, Howa’s option expired in 2009 when “It all went down in a ball of flames,’ according to Rick Howa.”, as expressed in the article written by Lesley Mitchell. In the same article, RDA executive director D.J. Baxter, while calling Howa’s original proposal “fantastic,” said the developer’s alternative ideas didn’t do much for him or the board.”
But that was then and this is now: for the past three years as the recession has wound down, the RDA, starting from scratch, has been plugging away on a new plan for the property. The city agency has already written a “memorandum of understanding” with the Salt Lake City Public Library providing them with the land for a new neighborhood library, and hired MIG Planning, a city planning and consulting firm, with whose help they have held several meetings within the community for neighborhood input on the development.
Now that the first four community input workshops have been held at West High and Washington School, which the planners used to develop input from the community with regard to space planning wishes, parking, building materials, etc., the next step is to let out the “RFQs”, which are the formal “Request for Qualifications” to various interested developers who would essentially apply for consideration to be included based on their past work and their ability to handle their part of the project financially. With respect to the RFQs, the RDA says that they intend to break the block up into five parcels for the purpose of development, rather that letting it all go to one developer. The intention is to allow for a variety of design ideas to go up side by side, rather than build a hasty and monolithic looking project, with an eye to keeping the overall look and design of the project within the scale of the neighborhood. Further, the RDA intends to develop the park and plaza parcel itself, which, once complete, would come under the care of the city’s parks department.
Once the RFQs have been returned to the RDA with more specific proposals later this summer, the agency intends to hold additional meetings this coming fall to bring the neighborhood up to speed with the direction and timing of the project. The Bulletin staff will certainly post this and any other upcoming meetings regarding the project here on the blog in as timely a manner as possible. In fact, we will have another article coming in the next several days specifically about the new library and its design and current progress. As always, we value your comments and questions. More to come….