SALT LAKE CITY — Residents in the Rose Park neighborhood of Salt Lake City are upset over the development of a new apartment complex.
The development of the Kozo Apartments, which will be be built at 175 North and 600 West, will call for the demolition of seven single-family homes.
Renters of those homes feel like they're being kicked out and they just want help.
“It just feels so wrong, it feels like we have no renters rights at all,” said Tina Holt-Balderrama, a renter in the neighborhood.
Holt-Balderrama has lived in a house in the area for six years.
“They’re just trying to evict us and kick us out on the streets and make us feel like we were homeless,” said Holt-Balderrama.
Tina says she and her neighbors received a letter from Davidson Realty, who oversees the property, telling them they needed to be out by March 31. In the letter, Davidson Realty said that the owner of the properties had waived the rent for tenants for the month of March, and would also be returning all security deposits.
“I think it’s all just a big game, and I think they’re playing the wrong game,” said Holt-Balderrama.
The letter didn't state why the tenants needed to leave, but Holt-Balderrama learned the property had been sold to build the Kozo Apartments, a 275-unit complex consisting of studios and two-bedroom units that will be rented for up to $2,000 a month.
“They think they’re just going to move in a higher class of people into this neighborhood and that they’re just going to know how to live," said Holt-Balderrama. "They might be able to change the building, but you can’t change the whole neighborhood.”
“That is just outrageous. You have to make at least $50,000 a year, we’ve studied it, to be able to handle living in these apartments.”
The city says it invests millions to support displaced residents to help them with rental assistance and finding affordable housing. While affordable housing is hard to find in Salt Lake City, Utah Community Action says they do have connections and sources that can help.
“If they can identify a unit that will take them, and they can, of course, make sure that they have the funds for ongoing rent, we can definitely help them with deposits, assistance and first month’s rent,” said Sahil Oberoi, the director of housing and case management at Utah Community Action.
FOX 13 spoke to a developer working on the Kozo apartment complex to get details about the project. The developer wished to remain anonymous.
FOX 13: Is Modal Living involved in the Kozo Project?
Modal Living, Inc. (Modal) is an ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit) company and is not involved in the Kozo Project.
FOX 13: Are Modal employees involved in the Kozo Project?
David Clayton, an employee of Modal, is the architect on the project. Neither David nor Modal have any ownership of or control over the project. Dallin Jolley, one of the co-founders of Modal, is the Kozo development coordinator. Dallin is not currently employed by Modal.
FOX 13: What will be the make up of the project? How many units, square feet, etc.?
Kozo Apartments consists of 275 units and 218 parking stalls (192 on the property and 26 new stalls on the street at the expense of the project). This unit count and parking ratio are improvements from previous designs based on community feedback. It is important to us to listen to the community's needs and work to build what is best for the area long-term. The apartment is comprised of primarily studio and one-bedroom units and a handful of two-bedroom units. The square footages of the units range from 378 square feet to 1,188 square feet; the majority of the units are on the smaller end of that range.
FOX 13: What is the price range for the cost to live in these apartments?
The expected rental rates for these units range from $1,050 to $2,100, again with the majority of the units being smaller and rented on the lower end of that range. These are not considered luxury apartments - they are market rate. Kozo's average rental rates are projected at 70% of AMI (Area Median Income) - about as close as you can get to an affordable rate without government subsidies, which was one of our goals on the project.
FOX 13: There are people in the neighborhood saying the developer is trying to kick current renters off the property so they can build this new apartment complex on the property, any comment?
Locally and nationally we are experiencing an affordable housing crisis. Our goal as developers is to improve the use of space in the cities we invest in. The Kozo project replaces seven single-family homes with 275 new units. The majority of the existing homes are currently vacant and have been plagued by drugs and crime for the past several years. All remaining tenants are currently on month to month leases and the property owner chose to not renew those leases when several of the tenants stopped paying rent earlier this year. The property owner / property manager are working with each of the tenants to provide flexibility on rent / deposits as they transition out of the existing homes.
FOX 13: What is the goal of developers?
As a developer, we are looking at the big picture and asking how we can address the housing needs in our City and State. In Salt Lake City, one of the answers is by adding significant density to our downtown core neighborhoods. Single-family homes in the downtown core is not a sustainable way for Salt Lake City to grow. A change in the neighborhood landscape is inevitable and healthy as our City grows. The Kozo project also brings much needed retail space to the neighborhood. This particular neighborhood is already a high-density neighborhood and an apartment building fits naturally into the existing surroundings. There are nearly 2,000 apartment units within 2-3 blocks of Kozo, so this development is not out of character for the neighborhood.
FOX 13: Anything else you want people to know about this project?
The property is zoned for this type of high-density development and fits right into the City's master plan. As developers we are simply fulfilling the vision that the City of Salt Lake has created for this specific property.