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The Station Center project that would transform the no-man's land between the Utah Transit Authority Intermodal Hub on 600 West and the Rio Grande Depot on 400 West was pushed further toward reality Tuesday.

The board of the Salt Lake City Redevelopment Agency voted unanimously to enter into exclusive negotiation agreements with developers on two of its five parcels in the area.

The Boyer Company and Cowboy Partners are teaming up to develop a commercial and residential development on 2 acres on the northwest corner of 300 South and 600 West.

LandForge+Community Studio seeks to renovate the old Serta Matress building on the corner of Market Street and Woodbine Court (about 350 South and 450 West).

The negotiation period of eight months should yield specific plans for the sites. Those plans must be approved by the RDA before construction can begin. A best-case scenario would see building begin in spring 2016, said RDA Chairman Stan Penfold.

No proposals were accepted for the RDA's remaining three parcels in the area. The agency is expected to release a request for proposals (RFP) later this year.

The makeover of the area between 200 South and 400 South between 500 West and 600 West has been in the planning stages for a decade. But planners believe the area between the Salt Lake City Central Station and the Rio Grande Depot is suited for a dynamic area of shops, restaurants, offices and apartments.

Heights could go as high as nine stories. But planners say the emphasis will be on walkability.

However, the area is challenged by The Road Home Shelter, St. Vincent DePaul soup kitchen and other homeless-service providers in the area. The Rio Grande district is noted for drug trafficking and other crime.

Mayor Ralph Becker's Homeless Services Site Evaluation Commission is in the midst of determining whether those services should be moved. The commission's recommendations are not expected until year's end.

Dan Lofgren of Cowboy Partners conceded the area has challenges, but said it can change.

"We're looking to roll up our sleeves and be part of the solution," Lofgren said.