Though Brandon Blaser was born and raised in Salt Lake City, he spent many years of his career working in high-growth secondary markets like Austin, Texas; Denver; and Nashville, watching the renaissance taking place in older industrial areas near those cities' downtowns. It might be said he had a fresh eye when he returned to his hometown and saw the potential of a couple downtrodden blocks adjacent to the industrial Granary District near downtown.
"That gave me the perspective that others who had looked past this area so long didn't have," says Blaser, president of Salt Lake City–based real estate developer and investor BCG Holdings. "Having worked away from Salt Lake City gave me the advantage."
The character-rich neighborhood has evolved over the past four years into Salt Lake City's Post District, a new, walkable mixed-use enclave featuring four new-construction multifamily buildings along with five century-old industrial buildings converted for office and retail use, and the potential for further development.
Destined to be among the city's hottest urban settings, the Post District also offers eateries, shops and green space. Other strengths to consider: It's located near major transportation arteries, lies 10 minutes from the city's airport and is 30 minutes from a half-dozen world-class mountain resorts.
In 2019, BCG acquired about 13 acres in a 1-1/2-block area and brought in Salt Lake real estate development firm Lowe Property Group to create the residential portion of the Post District. Together, they approached Salt Lake City–based equity partner Bridge Investment Group to complete the vision. "Bridge said if you're going to change the neighborhood, you really have to change it," he recalls. He had originally asked for $35 million; Bridge offered $90 million, and ultimately $135 million was agreed upon.
"Being able to partner with Lowe Property Group was crucial, and I give full credit to them and Bridge Investment Group," he says. "Having partners invested in Salt Lake City and giving extra amounts of care and diligence is unique in my experience."
That the land acquired was in a federally designated opportunity zone, eligible for tax deferrals, helped to secure financing. This was among Bridge Investment Group's first opportunity zone deals and proved to be a transaction Bridge was excited to be able to spotlight to investors.
Historically, the Post District featured a railyard as well as several industrial buildings used for newspaper production and distribution. One of its primary structures originally served as the Newspaper Agency Corp. The district's name refers to early newspapers having been distributed by the U.S. Postal Service. The oldest building on the site was built in 1907, with the rest of the structures being built between then and 1932. At least 70% of the district's original buildings were retained.
As for the district's new buildings, four will be residential structures totaling 580 multifamily units, says Miles Waltman, vice president of Lowe Property Group. All of the units, ranging from 375 to over 2,000 square feet, are well into lease-up. The entry point of the four is 801 Flats, a 73-unit micro-unit property featuring studio apartments that is 92% occupied. The Register features 33 units and is 91% occupied and 94% leased. The other two, Post House North and Post House South, offer the vast majority of residential units and are collectively 24% occupied.
That housing would be designed for a wide spectrum of residents was part of the plan. "It's quite broad because of the range of housing options," Waltman says. "You could have a waiter from one of the onsite restaurants living in one of our attainable studio apartments and the owner of that same restaurant living in one of our penthouses, both sharing the same quality amenities. There's also a middle tier, with the bulk of units catering to the middle between those two. They're for workers in the first years out of college making $70,000 to $100,000."
The residential buildings will share amenities, including an 8,000-square-foot gym with free weights and Peloton bikes, year-round indoor-outdoor pool, oversized infinity-edge hot tub, theater, game room, pet washing room, mini-market, creative room and business center. "The world champion Denver Nuggets rented out the rooftop on The Register for their team dinner, catered by Urban Hill, during the All-Star weekend this past NBA season," Waltman says.
Chef-driven Dining Innovations
The Post District is welcoming a curated array of restaurateurs offering innovative dining concepts and abundant patio seating, as well as craft bars, locally owned shops and state-of-the-art work spaces. Among the first wave of restaurants is Urban Hill, a chef-driven, modern American restaurant with an open kitchen featuring wood-fired cuisine that was voted "Best New Restaurant" in Salt Lake City Weekly's 2023 Best of Utah awards.
"It's really exciting," says Brooks Kirchheimer, with his father David co-founder of Urban Hill, open daily for dinner as well as Sunday brunch, of being the Post District's first restaurateur. "As my dad and I like to say, it's risky being first, but we find pioneering opportunities to be especially rewarding. That certainly has been the case at Post District. Its transformation into a vibrant and beautiful attraction near downtown and the City's sports, cultural and visitor venues is amazing."
Also destined for the Post District is Sunday's Best, a restaurant that will serve brunch every day, scheduled to open this spring. "There isn't a cooler two-block radius downtown," says Michael McHenry, CEO of The McHenry Group, based in Salt Lake City. "And we're in a freestanding, all-brick-and-steel, two-story A-frame at the entrance to the Post District development. We feel a stewardship, because we're like the first impression."
Blaser is looking forward to seeing how the Post District plays, not just with Utah natives but with the large cohort of newcomers that has swelled the population. "Salt Lake City has had such large population growth," he says. "It's the young professional workforce coming from California, D.C., the East and West coasts, people who are used to being in walkable, accessible districts with restaurants and music venues. We're giving people new to Salt Lake City something that hasn't been available here before."