Urban Development

ClearWater's Lofty Vision for Downtown

September 8, 2015 Written by

Published in Urban Development

The view atop the rooftop deck at Broadway Park Lofts looks postcard perfect with the city’s burgeoning skyline framed against the Wasatch Mountains. The sense of place, at once urban and alpine, is intensely and uniquely Salt Lake. Contrast this with the condo’s cutting-edge interiors—built around a communal courtyard with a backlit, five story waterfall, live-work spaces and high-end modern finishes—and the development could highlight best practices in urban design from New York, Chicago or Los Angeles. Brick, steel and lots of glass, the Broadway Park Lofts represent a tipping point in urban life around Pioneer Park.

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“We are incredibly passionate about downtown,” said Micah Peters, CEO of ClearWater Homes, who took over the loft project a few years ago. “This kind of high density project is the evolution of our city. We really love this neighborhood and we believe that Pioneer Park is a fabulous asset that we can help make into something wonderful for the whole community.”

Broadway Park was the brainchild of visionary Salt Lake architect Ken Millo who developed the Firestone Building and Uffen’s Marketplace next door. The 2007 housing market bust kept the project in limbo for several years. But with support from the Redevelopment Agency, ClearWater doubled down on the loft development a few years ago, ironed out financing issues and brought the project to market. The finished product is a striking example of new urbanism.

“A prominent for-sale condo development like this is kind of like public nudity,” says Peters. “You put everything you have out on the line for public inspection. You are totally vulnerable waiting for the condos to sell and you learn something important with every development. You are rewarded or penalized for the quality of the project and your design decisions.”

The results speak for themselves. With an average price of $360 per square foot, the Broadway Park Lofts achieved one of the highest sales velocities in downtown Salt Lake history. Owners include an incredible range of income, age and socioeconomic status. Condo prices range from $140,000 for 400 square foot , two-story live work studios, to $1.3 million for a penthouse suite with a 1,200 square foot rooftop garden overlooking Pioneer Park.

“Density and metropolitan living can be done sensibly,” Peters said. “We’ve proven you can create a lifestyle in this vertical village that appeals to a wide cross section of people.”

Now, after hitting record setting sales per square foot on the Broadway Park Lofts, ClearWater is looking one block north, announcing the development of Paragon Station in the Westgate Business Center on the corner of 200 South and 300 West.

An adaptive reuse of the 94-year-old warehouse and office building built as the Kaiser Fireproof Storage Facility, Paragon Station will reflect the building’s history and sense of place evoked from a neighborhood that traces its beginning back to easy railroad access nearly a century ago. All but the bones and south historical façade will be transformed to make way for ClearWater’s modern vision. Architectural design firm Blalock & Partners applied a distinct vision to the project. Kevin Blalock muses: ”We developed a concept maintaining the rich, historic south facade - the primary public face of the project - to support the context of the block along 200 South. On the east side. dramatic “living boxes” clad in wood provide warmth, depth and texture in contrast to the traditional brick facade. An additional story, a ribbon of steel and glass, was added to the roof which allowed us to create luxury two-story penthouse units, each with private rooftop decks offering spectacular views of downtown and the Wasatch Mountains beyond.”

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While the building will retain historic architectural elements, there is nothing old fashioned about Clearwater’s commitment to sustainability. The responsible, sustainable and energy efficient design and building practices will directly translate to monthly and annual savings for new homeowners. Paragon Station is the first adaptive reuse LEED-Gold multifamily project in Utah; a standard ClearWater hopes to help breed more of in the future.

“We are pushing the envelope on design and materials,” Peters said of Paragon Station. “That’s the exciting part. We envision a project that is authentic to the history and location of the building. We want to set a new threshold for environmental design in Salt Lake City. Our central goal was to achieve a sustainable strategy that is clearly synthesized with function. The resulting product will be an example of high performance with high style.”

ClearWater was uncommonly successful in Broadway Park Lofts, and the company is seeing real headroom at thein Paragon Station with client expectations and expressed enthusiasm in early unit contracted reservations.. The project will include modern finishes but offer more traditional floor plans with single story units, and access to private and common outdoor space; a feature many multi-unit developments lack. Condos at the Paragon Station will range in size from 800 to 2600 square feet. With additional square footage in cantilevered decks and rooftop patios, residents will be able to embrace an indoor-outdoor lifestyle.

“We want to build communities that appeal to a diverse socio economic background, everyone from young urban professionals who are first time home buyers, retirees who want to downsize, to Jazz players and CEOs,” Peters said. With a 15 month construction cycle, the environmentally sustainable project will be completed in the summer of 2016.

ClearWater Homes’ plans implement renewable energy and sustainable green building techniques, including the use of non-consumptive geothermal energy to heat and cool the building, thermal blocking, aggressive insulation, and direct-source building materials. New homeowners will benefit from the commitment to LEED-Gold certification through low energy bills and knowing that they are going a long way towards reducing air pollutants and conserving water.

“We want to display leadership in the industry,” Peters said. “Not all our decisions are financial, at some point design trumps economics. Most of the decisions we make are driven internally, but we think the buyer will recognize and respond to our commitment to preserving the history of the building and the project’s environmental stewardship.”

The neighbors have noticed.

“Having invested so much of our own effort in this block, we are excited to see Micah and his team step forward and be so successful,” said Matt Caputo of neighborhood staple Caputo’s Market and Deli. “They have already been super neighbors and have injected new vitality into the entire neighborhood. We’ve already seen a change in flow of customers and vibrancy.”

ClearWater’s commitment to the neighborhood extends beyond residential development, new development or adaptive reuse.

“We are literally putting our money where our mouth is,” said Peters. “We aren’t just completing projects and moving on, we believe in the 300 South corridor. ClearWater Homes just moved our corporate offices to the Pioneer Park neighborhood, between Bingham Cyclery and Caputo’s Market and recently incorporated Latitude 40 Properties; a new downtown residential brokerage to help promote urban living in Salt Lake City.”

Peter’s exuberance for Pioneer Park hasn’t been dampened by the Park’s past challenges. Recognizing the commitment from local leaders to finding solutions for homeless people in the area, Peter’s is bullish on the neighborhood and Salt Lake City.

“I’m a huge advocate of housing first and we are going to be aggressively using the resources in Mayor Becker’s 5000 Doors program to find solutions,” Peters said. “This is a neighborhood that has to be welcoming and safe for everyone, regardless of their housing status. I think it’s important to have a diverse socio economic group living in the same neighborhood, and our projects are helping to make that a reality.”

LEED Defined

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It is the nationally accepted benchmark and third-party verification system that provides accreditation to builders who demonstrate knowledge of green building practices and principles and who implement these practices into their construction and design.

The LEED program uses a point system that rewards builders for sustainable practices. Points are awarded for sustainable building expertise, community improvement, proximity to public transportation, designs that cut down on water and electricity usage and minimal impact on surrounding ecosystems, and designs that promote better air quality and greater access to natural light. Higher point values earn the builder a higher level of certification (e.g. certified, silver, gold, platinum).

What is so great about LEED Certification?

LEED certified buildings:

  • Have lower operating costs.
  • Have a higher asset value.
  • Conserve water and energy. (LEED Gold buildings consume an average of 30% less energy and 11% less water).
  • Are healthier and safer for occupants.
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions (In the U.S., buildings account for 38% of greenhouse gas emissions and 73% of U.S. electricity consumption).
  • Show the owner’s commitment to environmental stewardship and social responsibility.

Paragon Station (and the recently completed Broadway Park Lofts) are just the beginning. Clearwater Homes is committed to supporting sustainable development in Salt Lake City and plans to make continued investments in the downtown area.