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Challenges delay affordable housing project in downtown SLC

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Posted at 9:36 PM, May 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-23 23:36:58-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Creating more affordable housing is one of Salt Lake City's number one goals, but their latest attempt has fallen short.

In 2012, Salt Lake City officials began renovating the old Regis Hotel to make way for the Plaza at State Street, which would be a mixed use of residential, retail and affordable housing.

Last June the developer backed out due to financial constraints and construction challenges, according to the city.

"It's disappointing because we have so much positive momentum in the downtown, there is a lot going on, so to see a project like this stall out it really doesn't convey the strongest message about our downtown," said Justin Belliveau, Chief Administrative Officer for SLC Redevelopment.

Kristen Navarro is one of those Salt Lake City residents hoping to get off the streets, and into an apartment, with the help of affordable housing.

"I had housing but I got evicted because they switched owners, and then I'm back out here and I'm out here for who knows how long until you can move in again," Navarro said.

Crossroads Urban Center says there are hard-working homeless people with jobs, but they just aren't making enough to afford the average rent.

"Right now the city is experiencing a low-income housing crisis, and this has been going on for several years and it's only getting worse," said Glenn Bailey, Executive Director of Crossroads Urban Center.

Crossroads says what's really frustrating is that low income residents were forced to relocate from the old Regis hotel to make way for this new project, which never came to fruition.

"It was a place where people who would otherwise be homeless would have a chance to get off the street and live independently and now that's of course gone," said Bailey.

The city says they aren't giving up. They're in talks with a replacement developer about turning the incomplete project State Street project into 300 new apartment units, 20 percent of which would be designated as affordable housing.

"It puts in place a mechanism to ensure that affordable housing is provided on a long term basis downtown and that's a great thing," Belliveau said.