November 28, 2004

Live Upstairs, Work Downstairs in S.L.

Live-work space is coming to Salt Lake City, and real estate brokers and developers say it's about time.

Salt Lake City, unlike many big cities around the county, has not had many dwellings that can serve as homes upstairs and workplaces downstairs.

Not that such space isn't coveted by many urbanites looking to locate in Utah's capital. According to area real estate agents, the city has only eight live-work space units downtown -- four at the Dakota Lofts and another four at Broadway Lofts.

And those spaces are full, said Babs Delay, a Salt Lake City Planning Commissioner and principal broker of Urban Utah Homes and Estates at The Gateway. But, she said, the mix of live-work space is on the verge of changing.

About a dozen new live-work spaces will enter the market soon when the WestGate office center opens. It will be located between 300 West and 400 West on 200 South.

Even the Salt Lake Redevelopment Agency is getting into the live- work space mix.

Developer Alan Wood recently unveiled a plan to the RDA Board that will put seven new live-work spaces in a 122-unit housing project on 200 East between 300 South and 400 South.

Some raised eyebrows was the initial reception to Wood's plan. After a few questions, however, city leaders seemed genuinely excited about the notion.

"I spent some time in Denver looking at some live-work space projects and they're really captivating," he said.

Live-work space projects are usually two-story combined units with a condominium unit on the second floor and the owner of that condo's office, salon, gallery, shop or other business on the first floor. The units are different than merely having housing on top of retail in that the residential space and the commercial space are actually one unit.

In Wood's project, the upstairs condos would be 900 square feet with a staircase leading down to the commercial space below. The units are expected to be priced at $170 per square foot.

The spaces are perfect for hair stylists, real estate brokers, artists or others who would like to have their office or work space just below their home.

Kelly Favero, for instance, owns Limelight Tanning Club at 380 W. 200 South at the Dakota Lofts and has an apartment just above. He only has to walk down the stairs to get to work.

Proponents say such spaces make for a more stimulating city because they simultaneously create both downtown residences and downtown businesses -- two components city leaders say are vital to the success of downtown.

"More live-work space would certainly make a much more vibrant and walkable city," Delay said. "Really, coming down the pike there should be a lot more. There are a lot of developers talking about that right now."

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