SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City's skyline is about to see some dramatic changes.
Several skyscrapers are now under consideration or have already cleared the city's planning department. And while they won't surpass what's now the city's tallest building, that could be coming soon.
"There's no question" Salt Lake City's skyline is about to get higher and denser, said Nick Norris, Salt Lake City's planning director, though he declined to disclose any details of other projects expected but haven't yet hit the city's planning pipeline.
"But we are definitely going to see more high-rise development downtown in the near future."
Salt Lake City's current tallest building — the Wells Fargo Center — stands at 422 feet, just 2 feet taller than the Church Office Building of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It's an "urban legend" that buildings can't be taller than the church's office building, Norris said.
There isn't a maximum building height in downtown's Central Business District, though there are certain heights that trigger design review requirements.
Though it's not yet clear what will eventually become Salt Lake City's tallest skyscraper, there are several sky-high projects that have won a stamp of approval and are headed toward construction, including:
• A long-envisioned Salt Palace convention hotel on the northwest corner of 200 South and West Temple.
• A 24-story tower that will become the city's first ever residential rental skyscraper at 151 S. State.
• A 28-story high-rise of pure office space at 95 S. State.
That means that very soon, Salt Lake visitors and residents can expect a flurry of construction in the heart of Utah's capital to make way for the new skyscrapers.
"This time next year, we'll have four or five cranes" operating in the heart of the city, said Dee Brewer, executive director of the Downtown Alliance.
Brewer also hinted at some "preliminary conversations" with developers who have "other ambitious plans" for the area, though he also said it was too soon to give more details than that.
"In the next 10 years, the skyline of Salt Lake City will continue to change as the downtown area densifies and as more people live downtown," he said.
As the face of an organization dedicated to downtown vibrancy, Brewer said skyscrapers are a welcome addition to Salt Lake City's bustling business district.
"Downtown is an appropriate place for that kind of densification," he said. "It's what makes great cities great cities."
As the fight against density riles neighborhoods across the Wasatch Front, there's no place better suited than downtown Salt Lake City for high-rise offices, hotels and rentals, Brewer said.
"There are always voices with concerns about that change, but if you look at the growth that is projected for Utah, inherent in that growth are changes in how we live and work," he said. "It's been said that change isn't stressful, resistance to change is stressful."
In 2016, Salt Lake City leaders updated the downtown master plan after "extensive" public engagement to decide how downtown should grow, Norris said, and more skyscrapers are certainly a part of that plan.
"I think it has to be," Norris said. "Downtown has the infrastructure and amenities in place that support it growing and getting bigger. One of the impacts of that is it does reduce the growth pressure in other parts of the city and, frankly, the region."
To Salt Lake City Councilwoman Ana Valdemoros, who was recently selected to fill former Councilman Derek Kitchen's seat on the council representing downtown, the flux of new skyscrapers means an "exciting" time for Salt Lake City.
"It's exciting to have a more cosmopolitan city," Valdemoros said, recalling how different Salt Lake City looked 19 years ago when she first came to Utah.
Norris said it's thanks to Utah's steady economy and long-range planning that has set up Utah's capital to set its sights sky-high.
"That's why we're starting to see this big boom," he said. "And it's going to get bigger."
Here are some major projects coming soon to Salt Lake City's skyline:
After years of struggling to get the project up and running, city and county leaders are finally moving forward with what's slated to be a 28-story, 335-foot hotel on the southeast corner of the Salt Palace Convention Center, near 200 South and West Temple.
The 725-room hotel with about 896,000 square feet of floor area, 62,000 square feet of meeting space, a nearly 26,000-square-foot ballroom, along with a restaurant, lobby bar and lounge, fitness and pool deck and an event terrace, will feature electronic displays and a glass and aluminum exterior, according to planning documents filed with Salt Lake City.
Construction is expected to begin later this year and slated to finish in 2022.
The hotel will "anchor the southeast corner of the Salt Palace block to become a true urban complement of the downtown and a center of activity for the neighborhood surrounding the Salt Palace Convention Center," developers John Portman and Associates wrote in preliminary plans now under review in the city's planning department.
The Salt Palace currently has about 1,000 parking spaces, but the hotel will only add about 64 new parking stalls below the hotel, according to preliminary plans. "For large conventions at the Salt Palace, it is anticipated that many event visitors will stay at the proposed hotel" and use Salt Palace parking, designers wrote in planning documents.
The hotel "is projected to attract more economic development around the hotel, acting as a catalyst for future growth," developers wrote. "A project of this caliber and scale will become a much-needed anchor that will greatly benefit the current revitalization efforts of the downtown and the Salt Palace districts.
"The economic vision will be complemented by an elegant urban and architectural design that is compatible with the surrounding buildings while sensitive to becoming a new urban marker and presence on the skyline," developers wrote.
A 24-story, 262-foot, 270-unit residential development called Liberty Sky is headed toward construction at 151 S. State after winning approval from Salt Lake City planners.
It will be Salt Lake City's first skyscraper completely made up of residential rentals.
The high-rise — with 19 residential floors, a ground floor for management offices and "lifestyle space" — will also include four stories of parking, including one level underground and three above ground, according to planning documents.
"Liberty Sky will add a whole new dimension to downtown living in Salt Lake City," developers wrote in planning documents. "This is a remarkable location in a remarkable and vibrant downtown neighborhood and this location calls for a remarkable building."
The project is being developed by Cowboy Partners and Boyer Co. and designed by Smallwood, Reynolds, Stewart and Stewart of Atlanta.
"High energy, lifestyle-rich, walkable, uplifting and refreshingly modern are all very apt descriptions for Salt Lake's most exciting residential undertaking in a long, long time," designers wrote.
A 28-story, 395-foot office building named Tower 8 is coming to 95 S. State, directly west of the Harmons grocery store.
Tower 8, proposed by City Creek Reserve, a real estate arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is slated to become the city's third-tallest skyscraper.
Construction is expected to begin this year.
The skyscraper is slated to include more than two dozen floors of office space and tower 395 feet high, according to blueprints from architects Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, a firm based in San Francisco.
Tower 8's sweeping, curved and glassy design is similar to another City Creek Reserve building: 111 Main, which was designed by the same architects.
Parking is planned on two levels within the tower, as well as on the sixth level of the adjacent Harmon's parking building, accessible through Social Hall Avenue.
A mixed-use, multiphase development including buildings topping 11 stories is on its way near the Vivint Smart Home Arena between 200 West and 300 West and 200 South and 100 South, named Block 67.
The nearly 7-acre project, as envisioned by developers the Richie Group, has about eight buildings, including apartments, two hotels and an office tower.
Block 67's first phase includes a 10-story, 230-unit apartment building; an 11-story, 270-room hotel with a rooftop restaurant; and a 424-stall underground commercial parking garage, according to city planning documents.
Future phases include a second hotel with 400 rooms, a 473-unit residential tower, a 166-unit residential building, and a 416,000-square-foot office tower.
The developers envision it as an "entertainment district" that will link the Vivint Arena and The Gateway to the downtown's Central Business District, according to city planning documents.
"This is the historically 'gritty part of town' that is becoming refined," developers wrote in planning documents. "We feel that the buildings that are designed for this site should be a composition of eclectic statements that could have evolved over time."
255 S. State
A yet-to-be-named proposal is in preliminary planning phases after a previously planned development failed at 255 S. State.
A demolition crew is tearing down a steel structure as a first step of a plan to build two residential buildings at 13 and eight stories tall — and preliminary plans call for the majority of 190 residential units to be affordable housing, according to Whitney Weller, senior vice president of the developer, Brinshore Development LLC.
Salt Lake City leaders haven't yet signed off on the development, but it's being proposed to include 152 affordable units ranging between 20 percent and 80 percent of the area's median income, while 38 units would be market rate, Weller said.
The first and second floors of the building would include about 20,000 square feet of commercial space, according to Weller. It would also include about 100 spaces of underground parking at a rate of about half a space per unit.
Planning documents have not yet been submitted with the city, as the project is now in its preliminary phases.