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Proposed skyscraper would be the tallest building in Utah

Building in downtown Salt Lake City would tower at 448 feet, with 39 floors of luxury apartments

Rendering of the proposed Kensington Tower, a 448-foot skyscraper that would become the tallest addition to Salt Lake City’s skyline if it’s approved.
A rendering of the proposed Kensington Tower, a 448-foot skyscraper on the northwest corner of State Street and 200 South. If approved, it would become the tallest addition to Salt Lake City’s skyline.
Salt Lake City Planning Commission

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City is poised to get another addition to its already fast-growing skyline — and this high-rise would shatter the city’s height record.

If approved, it will replace Carl’s Jr. restaurant at 75 E. 200 South.

Towering at a total of 448 feet with 39 floors of luxury apartments, the proposed Kensington Tower at the corner of State Street and 200 South will bring Salt Lake City and Utah to new building heights if it wins approval from city officials.

“It will be the tallest building not just in Salt Lake, but the entire state,” said Molly Robinson, planning manager in the city’s planning division. “That’s pretty exciting. And the fact that it’s almost fully residential is even more amazing.”

Robinson said even city planners were “surprised” to see the proposed height, not knowing the developers — Boston-based Kensington Investment Company Inc. and architect HKS Inc. — would be so ambitious to reach for new heights with a residential building.

“We kind of expect our tallest buildings to be office space,” Robinson said. “That it will be 39 floors of luxury apartments — wow!”

Salt Lake City’s current tallest building — the Wells Fargo Center — stands at 422 feet, which is 2 feet taller than the Church Office Building of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Under Salt Lake City’s new design review process, any height request above 375 feet in downtown’s Central Business District requires approval from the Salt Lake City Planning Commission. The Kensington Tower is expected to come before the commission in coming months, Robinson said.

“Poised to become one of Salt Lake City’s most coveted addresses, the Kensington Tower will revolutionize downtown living in Salt Lake City while expanding the downtown skyline,” designers wrote in a project narrative submitted to Salt Lake City’s planning department.

Kensington Tower would feature nearly 680,000 square feet of luxury apartments, a six-level parking structure, an “outdoor urban park,” a clubhouse, a fitness center, a work lounge with conference rooms, a rooftop pool next to a spa and wellness center, a 4,000-square-foot roof terrace with “panoramic views” of the Wasatch Front, and exclusive sky lounge access for penthouse residents, according to planning documents.

The building would be 412 feet, plus an additional 36 feet for a high-speed elevator and mechanical equipment penthouse, according to planning documents.

The tower will feature 380 units, including studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments, which will be “crowned with two levels of exclusive penthouse units,” according to a narrative of the project. It will also feature 40,000 square feet of communal amenities on three different floors to “create a unique vertical urban community,” designers wrote.

Designers also say the tower will feature an “extensive amenity program” with “unparalleled service support,” including 24-hour concierge, package delivery, dry cleaning services, a pet spa and other services “that will make the urban living experience convenient and uniquely luxurious.”

“Kensington Tower will set the stage for a live/work/play concept and will rival other major metropolitan areas across the country, helping Salt Lake City recruit new professional talent and attract top companies to Utah,” designers wrote in the planning documents.

Additionally, developers seek to make Kensington Tower an “exemplar steward of the environment.” Designers say the project will aim to “minimize its carbon footprint” through design, construction and operations and will promote electric vehicles and bicycle share programs. It will also seek LEED Gold Certification for design and construction.

Developers will also explore using “photovoltaic vertical fins” — or new type of solar technology along the side of the building” — with the goal to produce enough solar energy for lighting in all public and communal areas, designers wrote.

Rendering of the proposed Kensington Tower, a 448-foot skyscraper that would become the tallest addition to Salt Lake City’s skyline if it’s approved.
A rendering of the proposed Kensington Tower, a 448-foot skyscraper the northwest corner of State Street and 200 South. If approved, it would become the tallest addition to Salt Lake City’s skyline.
Salt Lake City Planning Commission

Salt Lake City in coming years is expected to see a massive building boom, particularly when it comes to skyscrapers. Utah’s capital’s skyline is poised to add at least six high-rise projects that are in planning or slated to begin construction. The Kensington Tower is the latest proposal, preceded by a 375-foot skyscraper proposed to replace the old Utah Theater.

Salt Lake City residents and visitors can expect a snarl of construction in coming years in the heart of downtown. If approved, the Kensington Tower will be just across the street from a 262-foot, 270-unit residential tower called Liberty Sky at 151 S. State and barely a block away from a 395-foot office building named Tower 8 coming to 95 S. State, directly west of the Harmons grocery store.

Robinson said the site of the Carl’s Jr. drive-thru is a fitting spot for a new Salt Lake skyscraper, right on the east edge of the downtown core and a desirable address for people wanting to live or work in Utah’s capital.

Because of its special height request, Robinson said the city’s new design review process, automatically sending additional height requests to the Planning Commission, will allow more “public scrutiny” for projects like Kensington Tower, noting taller buildings have a “larger impact in a variety of ways on our city” in both scale and housing density.

“This particular project is going to be such a visible contribution to our skyline,” Robinson said. “That has impacts on the image and quality of the city that we want to project beyond just Salt Lake City, but this is an addition to the postcard picture of downtown.”

The project hasn’t yet been scheduled for consideration in front of the Planning Commission, but Robinson said it’s expected in coming months.