This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
A long-sought development near Trolley Square across the distinctive sky bridge over 600 South will move on to review by the Historic Landmark Commission.
The City Council's vote Tuesday to rezone property south of the shopping center was the next step in a yearlong effort toward adding six new buildings with a blend of retail and residences. The process has been closely watched and drawn hundreds of people to several public hearings.
"We are at first base right now," said developer Khosrow Semnani, who added that he's received advance feedback from the Historic Landmark Commission and is on board with their "superb ideas."
City Council member Erin Mendenhall noted that the process has been a "guinea pig," complicated by a variety of factors.
Semnani first petitioned for the relatively new form-based as opposed to use-based zone in January 2016.
But the city's Planning Commission had to vote twice on whether to recommend the change to the City Council.
The state's property-rights ombudsman ruled in August that the Planning Commission had violated its public notification protocol before its first vote in March preceded by an outpouring of both support for the proposal's potential economic benefit and opposition to its potential impact on a historically significant area.
Semnani also took the unusual step of trying to initiate a development agreement with the city recently scrapped that would have required a portion to be set aside for affordable housing while giving him greater discretion in zoning matters such as height, setback and stepback limits.
Among concerns shared by council members was that this would deprive the Historic Landmark Commission of its usual role approving such parameters.
Earlier this month, Semnani informed the Council he was no longer interested in the development agreement.
Said Council member Lisa Adams on Tuesday: "I'm really pleased that we got rid of the development agreement and that the [Landmark Commission] is not being cut out of the process."
Semnani, who bought Trolley Square out of bankruptcy in 2013, said Tuesday that the building will be as tall as 50 feet, as allowed under the code, with a high point of 60 feet for decorative towers.
The delays cost him money, he said, but "we tried different things that weren't tried before."
Among the things the Historic Landmark Commission will consider: whether the height, facades, roof shape and scale befit the surrounding area.
Semnani said he hopes for final approval by summer.