The West View

The West View

By Michael Evans

Results of a yearlong survey show strong interest in revitalizing the Warm Springs area west of Capitol Hill in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Sylvia Nibley of the Warm Springs Alliance spoke about the 500 responses they reviewed: “The thing that stood out for me most was that 93 percent say they would go there regularly to soak in the hot springs,” said Nibley. “Clearly, there is a lot of enthusiasm for bringing this place back to life.”

The Alliance was formed to protect the springs as a public space and preserve the old Children’s Museum/Wasatch Plunge building at 840 N. Beck St. Rival proponents for developing a private, upscale apartment complex abandoned the idea earlier this year.

Over 50 percent of the respondents to the survey said that there were no places where they experience community.

“I feel sad to see that kind of number,” said Nibley. “We have a large gap in our sense of belonging, and it’s a basic human need. Because we don’t have many gathering places where people go regularly to see people they know, with people they know, to places open to families and everyone. People don’t even know what we’re missing.”

Nibley adds, “Our culture has gotten so car-focused, so virtual, that there can be isolation and people don’t connect the dots.”

She also makes the very practical point that a growing number of local residents drive to Crystal Hot Springs in Honeyville, Utah, and Lava Hot Springs, Idaho, to soak in the mineral baths. Demand for health and wellness services is expanding nationwide, and a spa manager from Colorado communicates with the Alliance.

Architect David Scheer of the Alliance further elaborated on plans for indoor spa facilities, a large venue for events and plays, a healthful restaurant, themed gift shops relevant to the history of the springs (in collaboration with Ute tribal members), gardens, and outdoor pools joining North Gateway and Warm Springs Parks together. The Alliance’s business plan would assign concessions to knowledgeable independent operators.

A long-told rumor about the Wasatch Fault being unstable and degrading the concrete is completely untrue, according to every seismograph reading by the U.S. and Utah Geologic Surveys and the University of Utah.

“Reinforced concrete was a new material when the building was built,” said Scheer, “Mineral water contains a lot of Sulphur and Sulphur reacts very badly with concrete.”

Scheer further elaborated: “The first step before anybody can do anything with that building is to have a very extensive structural analysis done, where they actually X-ray the beams and columns to verify the location and size of the steel inside.” Scheer estimates the cost of the engineering analysis as “somewhere between 15 to 20 thousand dollars.”

Scheer projected a starting cost of $12 million for renovation, and spoke about raising money via “syndicated” tax credits and concessionaires, especially prospective spa owners, who can write off the cost of their own construction in the historical space. The Alliance is presenting a business plan for a lease, with step-by-step methods for implementation to Salt Lake City this fall.

The Golden Spike Train Club of Utah has installed 29 scale-miles of model railroad tracks in the building’s basement since 1984. They currently operate their model trains for the public on the second Saturday of every month.

“That site has been used since prehistoric times,” said Scheer. “Brigham Young took to the waters during his first week here. Salt Lake City’s first public transportation went to this site.”

Scheer also described his idea for an interactive “open design” meeting for the public in the near future to deepen public involvement: public perceptions are critical to public utilization of the whole Warm Springs area. The spring waters are NOT polluted by nearby industry or anything else, despite other false rumors. However, the reputation of Warm Springs as a haven for the unsheltered persists for good reason.

Sandra Hollins, who coordinates homeless services for Salt Lake City, spoke about public utilization as the key for eliminating transient camping in any given area. The city works with teams that engage with the unsheltered, offering help and resources. They include Volunteers of America, Fourth Street Clinic, Valley Mental Health, Community Connection Center of Salt Lake, One Voice Recovery, and the Veterans Administration.

The Salt Lake County Health Department oversees “sweeps” of areas near canyons, creeks, and the Jordan River, which includes outreach organizations and law enforcement, despite current understaffing problems. Each district has a detective associated with the Community Intelligence Unit — http://www.slcpd.com/community-engagement/community/

There was a major sweep in the Warm Springs area earlier in the summer of 2018, but its isolation and seclusion can still attract individuals “who don’t want to be seen or reported,” said Hollins. She is actively promoting a computer app called “City Sourced,” where citizens report problems on city property or in parks. All of the organizations above, and the police, are notified through City Sourced — https://saltlakecityut.citysourced.com/

“I encourage the public to call in and let us know what is going on,” says Sandra Hollins. Contact her at 801-535-7941 or .

Unlike Pioneer Park, there are no major homeless shelters immediately near Warm Springs. An active public presence made the old Wasatch Plunge a safe gathering place for families before the 1970s. There were well-known problems along the railroad tracks, but regular public attendance helped keep those problems away from the springs.

“I am not the only one who has been imagining the hot springs again,” said Nibley. “There are challenges, but they are not insurmountable.”

By Terry Marasco

As a renter, you are protected by Utah laws. The most important activity in maintaining those rights is to follow the obligations in your renter’s agreement, and if you are making a claim to your landlord, always do so in writing. Here are some renters’ rights from The Utah Housing Coalition’s (www.utahhousing.org) free renter toolkit:

1. Protection against discrimination;
2. Utah Fit Premises Act: Right to peaceful enjoyment, right to privacy — in limited circumstances, the landlord cannot enter your unit without notifying you (must give 24 hours; notice), and right to “habitable” living conditions. Landlord must begin repairs within three days of your written request for issues like unsanitary conditions, deficiencies with hot and cold water, deficient plumbing, deficient heating, among others;
3. Landlord must provide a three-day written notice before beginning eviction proceedings in court;
4. Right to file in small claims court to get back your deposit, and right to “repair and deduct” if a landlord fails to take care of important repairs, such as a broken heater, but the problem must be serious;
5. Protection against landlord retaliation for renters exercising a legal right, such as complaining about an unsafe living condition;
6. Special protections for renters who are victims of domestic violence;
7. Right to recover personal property abandoned by the renter, but the renter must pay back rent (if any) and transfer and storage costs of the property. If the renter fails to satisfy those costs, the landlord may sell the property to recover those costs;
8. Landlords can be held responsible for mold problems even absent specific laws governing mold.

What renters can do to protect themselves:

1. Always view a property, inside and out, room by room, before renting;
2. Read your rental agreement (a legally binding document) carefully before signing, and landlords can only enforce rules written in the lease;
3. Ask for a pre-rental inspection form to complete, and ask for an inspection list before you leave. Take pictures before renting and before leaving. Go over each with your landlord;
4. Pay rent on time, never with cash, always with a check or money order, and, if you think you are falling behind, discuss it with your landlord;
5. Don’t let someone live with you (human or animal) that isn’t on the lease;
6. Pay your utilities on time; if you don’t, you may be evicted;
7. Respect your neighbors; if you become a nuisance to your neighbors, you may be evicted;
8. Keep your yard and common areas clean;
9. Always communicate with your landlord in writing, especially if you receive an eviction notice; and,
10. Maintain your rental unit, treat the property like you own it! If repairs need to be made regarding damage caused by you, they can be deducted from your security deposit;

While renters have rights, they also have responsibilities. Utah’s laws favor landlords, so renters must be diligent in following the rules. As a good renter, an unreasonable landlord will have little defense if you need to take your issue to court.

Renter’s Resources

By Terry Marasco

For 33 years, hundreds of volunteers from around the Salt Lake valley have converged on Salt Lake City’s west side to improve the community by painting homes for the elderly, disabled, veterans, and those with limited income – homeowners who are physically or financially unable to do it themselves.

Since 1985, the exteriors of over 810 homes have been painted during Paint Your Heart Out, an annual event of NeighborWorks Salt Lake, a local, nonprofit neighborhood revitalization organization. This year, 13 teams painted 13 houses and the event expanded county-wide.

Teams of volunteers, formed from the business and nonprofit communities, such as Wells Fargo, Rose Park Lions Club, Sutherlands, Bridge Investment Group, Andeavor, and Rocky Mountain Power, spent half of a Saturday sprucing up and painting the exteriors of homes last August. For the last 19 years ProCom Painting has helped spearhead this event by providing hundreds of hours of professional painting and guidance.

NeighborWorks Salt Lake’s mission is to build on the strengths of neighborhoods, creating opportunities through housing, resident leadership, and youth and economic development. The organization works in partnership with residents, government, and businesses to build and sustain neighborhoods of choice.                                              

Paint Your Heart Out is one way to help keep communities attractive, livable, and safe.

The importance of beautifying communities came from the “Broken Windows” idea (Wilson & Kelling, 1982) wherein rundown homes with broken windows are seen as an invitation to crime, escalating from petty to serious, that creates neighborhoods where people feel unsafe.

Paint Your Heart Out is more than putting a pretty face on a house. It is mostly about neighbors helping neighbors even when they live miles apart – and about community building through volunteerism. Many of the volunteers, like me, live somewhere in Salt Lake County other than the west side.

Volunteerism is a big deal in Utah: In 2015, the Corporation for National & Community Service listed Utah as the No. 1 state with 43 percent of the residents having volunteered, $3.8 billion in contributed service, and 76 hours per person/per year. NeighborWorks with Paint Your Heart Out helps Utah stay on top.

English Poet John Donne wrote in 1624: “No man is an island, every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main.” No citizen is an island. We are a piece of the city and state, no one is self-sufficient; everyone relies on others. These neighborly opportunities bind us in ways that make our communities rich.

If your organization or business wants to join this campaign, or you want to volunteer next year, contact Shannon Kelley at NeighborWorks . To nominate a home to be painted next year, visit: www.nwsaltlake.org/paintyourheartout.html

Terry Marasco (aka Paintbrush Terry) volunteered for the 2018 Paint Your Heart Out as part of the Bridge Investment Group team.

By Eric S. Peterson

The following story was written and reported by The Utah Investigative Journalism Project in partnership with West View Media.

Preston Lange had just embarked on the pilgrimage many a plucky young 20s-something will make, heading out of his hometown to chase his dream and make a living on his own terms. But he had only been at the Sky Harbor Apartment complex on 1876 W. North Temple in Salt Lake City about six months when he found rent was suddenly approaching faster than money was coming in.

Lange’s passion is video production – creating music, wedding and the occasional corporate video, but the work is “feast or famine,” and he was in a “famine” stretch and asked his landlords if he could get a few extra days on his rent. He pushed it too far and had finally got a paycheck on the 12th of the month only to be served an eviction notice that day. The management offered to let him stay only if he paid an extra $500 for a legal settlement.

Lange was facing the dreaded three-day eviction notice and set into a panic that grips many renters. He didn’t know where to turn and even called several lawyers only to be told that their free consultations could only happen days after the three-day deadline.

 “I ended up sucking it up and paying the $500 just to get rid of the problem,” Lange says. In the end he doesn’t bear a grudge against management, but wishes they would have given him more warning about when the eviction would go to the lawyer.

He recognizes that he was lucky to have enough savings to pay the legal fee and avoid eviction.

“It sucks, but there’s definitely people in way worse situations than me,” Lange says.

Sadly, there are scores of worse situations for renters all over the state, including the west side of Salt Lake City. While the booming housing market has brought profit to home sellers and real-estate investors, the boom has also exploded the price of living in Utah, with some of the worst collateral damage hitting low and middle-income renters struggling to find affordable housing.

Local experts – from housing advocates, university researchers to a local evictions lawyer – agree that the skyrocketing home values bring with them higher rents as well. Plus, low vacancy rates mean landlords are less likely to cut tenants slack knowing that there are many other potential renters out there.

The Project searched court databases for eviction records for 48 of the largest west-side apartment complexes, that combined, offer 7,745 units for rent. Court records for these complexes show a steady upward trajectory for filed eviction notices with the courts. These notices don’t always mean a tenant was evicted; some disputes get settled. But in 2017 there were 230 eviction notices filed for these large complexes, and from January 1 to Aug. 30, 2018, there were already 226 eviction notices filed. These records of course say nothing about people who were simply priced out of the rentals they were at and left before they faced eviction, or those who were evicted illegally.

The Gap

The Salt Lake Chamber’s Housing Gap Coalition, dedicated to getting the state to prepare for the effects of it’s booming population, commissioned a study by the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah that found there are 54,047 more households than there are homes available. Since 2010 the report states that Utah has added four new households for every three new housing units.

Brynn Mortensen with the Housing Gap Coalition says they are working hard to encourage cities to plan smarter – more varieties of housing that is affordable and denser, especially near transit areas. A big part of it is getting Utahns used to the idea of larger housing projects.

“People think these projects bring transients or criminals – It’s not true, it’s your nurses, your firefighters, your school teachers, and your children and grandchildren looking for housing,” Mortensen says.

This pressure is already being felt on the west side. On the one hand a number of exciting development projects have come to the west side, like the upscale Alta Gateway station, or the recently approved Blue Lotus Townhomes that will be finished in 2019 across from the North Temple Trax station. But new luxury housing projects – that offer no affordable units – still contribute to the squeeze on low and middle-income prices.

June Hiatt of the Utah Housing Coalition says the effect is pronounced on Salt Lake City’s west side where major housing complexes have gone in near the North Temple frontrunner station that charge rents few west siders can afford. Ironically a lot of residents live there, she says, and then hop on the tracks and head to Utah County’s “Silicon Slopes” area to work.

“Now we’re seeing these massive developments coming in and really skyrocketing prices, which affects all of the naturally occurring affordable housing in the area,” Hiatt says.

The economic reality of it just doesn’t add up in favor of low-income renters.

“If a developer can come in, put apartments on the ground and rent them for $2,000 a month – $1,000 over market rate – then they’re making a huge profit,” Hiatt says. “But there’s no incentive for someone to say ‘You know what, maybe I’ll just break even on this project,’” by developing affordable units.

Sahil Oberoi, the Director of Housing Case Management at Utah Community Action, an organization that provides emergency rental assistance, says complexes that used to accept Section-8 Housing vouchers are now less inclined.

“Once a lease is over, it’s up to the discretion of the landlord to raise prices or not and we are seeing some landlords that are opting not to accommodate vouchers because they can make more money through the free market than subsidized housing,” Oberoi says.

Large west-side complexes that filed the highest rates of evictions per units on site, sadly include subsidized housing units operated by the Housing Authority of Salt Lake City. Taylor Gardens, a subsidized housing complex for seniors with housing vouchers located at 1790 S. West Temple saw 13 eviction notices filed since 2017. Right next to the site of the swanky Blue Lotus project on North Temple is Freedom Landing, subsidized housing for veterans transitioning out of homelessness. Since 2017, 15 eviction notices were filed there. These tenants face the added sting that once evicted, they can’t get back on section-8 housing for seven years.

In August 2018 Freedom Landing evicted a resident for owing $45 in rent, in 2017 another resident was evicted for owing $426 in rent and had a judgment against him for damages that added up to $5,351.

Zac Pau’u, Director of Homeless Programs at Housing Authority of Salt Lake City, would not speak to the general number of eviction notices but did explain the organization actively works with tenants to address their issues and meet their obligation of paying 30 percent of their income toward rent with a federally mandated minimum of $50. The added legal costs he says are part of the lease agreement that’s explained to the tenants. In the case of the man evicted over $45, Pau’u explained he had not paid rent for nine months and up to that point the Housing Authority had used grant funding to cover him, but eventually decided he could not be subsidized any longer.

“As an agency we are in the business of taking people off the streets, not putting people on them, therefore, each eviction is only considered after lengthy deliberation,” Pau’u says.

The Default Judgment Trap

Housing advocates are hopeful for new reforms meant to help address the strain on renters, like the chamber’s push for more housing options. Oberoi says Utah Community Action recently got county funding for an eviction mediator that is at Salt Lake City courts three days a week to help tenants negotiate a deal with landlords.

“Once you’re there everything is negotiable because at the end of the day a landlord just wants to get the money,” Oberoi says, adding that a mediator can work out extensions and payment plans. But if the tenant ignores an eviction notice, they fall down a default judgement spiral.

One of the confusing aspects of the law is that the three-day notice often appears to the panicky tenant as meaning they only have two options – pay or leave. In reality the most important thing to do is usually not printed on the notice – they need to respond to the landlord in writing. It could even be a handwritten letter.

If the tenant doesn't respond quickly, the landlord can then file a three-day summons notice, and if the tenant fails to respond to that notice, a default judgment follows with hefty additional fees – including attorney fees – added onto the rental debt.

The Solara Apartment complex at 780 N. 900 West, had in 2017 the highest rate of eviction notices filed per units of all the large west-side apartments complexes at 18 percent, and with 44 tenants and families evicted in 2017 by default judgement from the court. Meaning they didn’t respond to their landlord in three days and so, got whacked with all the penalties allowed by Utah law.

For those 44 evictions, the tenants on average owed $329 but received default judgments against them that averaged $2,853, simply because they didn’t respond to an eviction notice or show up to court in some cases.

James Deans is an eviction attorney in Salt Lake City, representing landlords. He finds no joy in putting people out on the street and works to cut deals whenever he can. On the flipside he also represents small landlords who might just be using rental income from a small duplex to retire on, or to live off the income themselves, and is happy to make sure a bad tenant doesn’t end up putting the landlord out on the street.

He agrees that too often tenants simply don’t communicate with landlords when they get the notice.

“You’ll find that money talks with these guys,” Deans says. And barring that, tenants need to write some kind of letter to keep them from getting hit with a default judgement.

“Even if I just write on a piece of toilet paper ‘I intend to move out,’ that saves a default judgment going against you,” he says.

Often times Deans says those added default judgment fees aren’t sent to collections, but nevertheless the record follows the tenant and makes it that much harder for them to get into a new place when they’ve got an eviction on their record.

These judgements already make life difficult enough, and research shows evictions often hit already disadvantaged groups. Kara Byrne a Research Assistant Professor with the University of Utah College of Social Work recently studied evictions in Salt Lake County. She and another researcher used eviction records and census data to look for correlations and found Latinos had the strongest correlation with evictions, along with groups living below the poverty line and other minority households.

Not surprisingly groups with English as a second language might struggle to understand the nuance of things like three-day eviction notices, and what their rights are.  

Hiatt with the Utah Housing Coalition says policy leaders are right to promote more housing units but they also need to invest in people too – more case managers and legal assistance to help renters stay indoors. Once people are kicked to the curb, managing all the challenges of employment, health, education and myriad other issues becomes incredibly more difficult.

“Housing is the foundation to everything,” Hiatt says. “If you do not have a safe place to go home to how can you confidently find a new job? Or get your kid into school or even read a book to your child at night? How can you do that if you don’t have a safe place to live?”

Updated 10/16/2018: The original article has been corrected to note an extra step in the legal process for a landlord to obtain a default judgment against a tenant who is served with an eviction notice.

By Michael Evans

A innovative west side business where customers buy package-free products in bulk is experiencing growth thanks to the drive of entrepreneur Jamaica Trinnaman and a recent, successful Kickstarter campaign.

Hello Bulk Market has been in operation as part of the Square Kitchen “business incubator” building on 750 W. 800 South since spring of 2018. They also sell their products at local Farmers Markets, such as oats, beans, pastas, spices, scents, essential oils, medicinal clays, aloe vera, candies, toothpaste, soaps, beauty supplies, cleaners, and more – including containers suitable for storing and carrying things home.

“This business was born out of common sense,” said Trinnaman, “and it certainly has evolved to something much bigger with tremendous environmental impact. We are all starting to realize that the way we consume goods is no longer working. We no longer keep up with the byproducts of the packaging. The best thing we can do is stop consuming those packaged products.”

Besides the environmental benefits of having zero waste (customers bring their own personal, reusable containers or purchase them at the market), Trinnaman touts other reasons to buy from her market: access to high-quality, fresh products that haven’t been stored for who-knows-how-long, and the ability to buy what you need when you need it.

Trinnaman possesses a rich background of research from her career in the grocery industry to back up her business plans, but she said that she learned so much from other female entrepreneurs.

“They popped into my life,” she said, “and I needed to hear their stories. They carry you, want to help you.” The range of experience from these female mentors ranges from two weeks to three years, or even several generations, for one of the women.

Six of the women from her network of associates and friends gathered their energies and pulled off a very successful Kickstarter campaign, which raised $15,000 towards hiring a team to support Hello Bulk Market’s growth and to eventually move into a new storefront location. The Kickstarter was capped with a final event at Square Kitchen in August that included a silent auction, drinks, and amenities. “Just put good music, a good cause, good alcohol together with Ana Valdemoro’s warm empanadas, and it will be successful,” laughed Trinnaman.

Trinnaman has decided to expand into a new place with a distinct storefront of its own, but for now the market is still operating out of Square Kitchen.

Trinnaman’s steady networking has created a demand for her as a speaker for business groups. She recently spoke at a meet and greet for Health and Wellness entrepreneurs and is speaking at Utah State University in October on a council about mission-driven businesses propelled by positive change.

Trinnaman described the basic steps of starting a new business.

First, after collecting the necessary data and research, she strongly advocated filling out a one-page Business Model Canvas (there are several on the Internet) and developing a Three Year Projection for “conversations with investors.”  (These are the “numbers” that can provide comfort during dark days and point to profits when times become good.) “Don’t lose the momentum!” she said.

Then, “when you find a location, start with Zoning at the City and County Building,” said Trinnaman. “Ask for help, and when you get the information you need, they will lead you to the next office across the hall for business licenses and other things.”

The next business model of Hello Bulk Market will also incorporate produce. “It is the perfect bulk food – already in a perfect package,” said Trinnaman, who is also considering a mobile market concept to expand her customer base.

Trinnaman praises the people who help her, and the ever-multiplying customers, who “get” the concept of her business.

“Their energy gives me energy,” she said, gratefully.

By Rich Stowell

It was love at first sight. A friend from the neighborhood had told us that the large house on Indiana had been listed, and we decided to go see it. As we entered the foyer in the front of the house, we looked at each other and said, “We want this house.”

Our new home is a 108-year-old, two-story craftsman bungalow on Indiana Avenue. We noticed it for years after moving into the Poplar Grove neighborhood, thinking how neat it would be to live in such an iconic masterpiece.

Like so many west-side landmarks, it represents a proud history obscured by years of neglect.  

Part of the attraction was the space. We have a growing family and felt increasingly cramped in our small mid-century bungalow. The main appeal, though, was the beautiful architectural features.

Like other craftsman homes, it showcases a simple harmony of angles and structural features in its ornamentation. On the exterior: exposed rafters visible under the eaves, large paned windows around the house, and the stone sills and lintels. Inside the house, the simple beauty of oak and pine cabinets, door cases, and stair rails were hard to resist.

A thousand little interesting stories are behind the details of the home. In 1911, for example, seven-foot basements were a luxury, since the earlier Victorian cottages usually had little more than a crawl space or tiny cellar. It was likely one of the first in the neighborhood to boast a central heating system, with ducting and vents original to the home, but the furnace used coal, and much of the coal remains in the basement coal room. It still has an ornamental fireplace, but only on the first floor, indicative of the bedroom reliance on forced air.

The architecture also contains history lessons about the patterns of life 100 years ago. A smaller kitchen tells us that food was meant to be prepared, not stored in the home, and consumed in a large dining room. High ceilings and transoms above the doors would help cool the house in the summers. Large windows on the east and west helped to light the home, though it appears that it was wired when built. Small bathrooms lacking tile hint at the rudimentary appreciation of germs and sanitation at the time.

Craftsman homes are hard to come by, in part because the period in which these homes were built was cut short by the world wars, and partly because homeowners tend to hang on to them due to their sturdiness and value.

We hope to join the ranks of stubborn craftsman homeowners and be in the home for years to come. Our children love running up and down the stairs. They can do laps on the first floor, and vertical laps going up the front staircase and down the back. It is a 10-year-old’s dream house for playing hide-and-seek. We will entertain in the backyard, and enjoy fall evenings on the veranda-style front porch.

Most of all, we are looking forward to restoring it to its former stateliness, adding some modern amenities while respecting the craftsmanship of those who built it.

By Paul Rowland and Maria Cortes

Our “Rock House” was built in 1889 with a rock foundation, high ceilings, and transient windows that were popular at the time. (It was the air conditioning of the 1800s.)

We first saw the “Rock House” when we lived in Rose Park and would walk past it on our way to play downtown. The 40-foot by 40-foot parking area off the back door was filled with pallets of rocks awaiting to cover the house. Over time, we watched the previous owner, who is a professional stonemason, create the “Rock House” as a showcase of his work. He updated all of the electrical and plumbing before covering the outside in stone.

Did we forget to mention the garage? The stone mason also converted the garage from a two-car garage with a carport into a three-car garage and covered all but the back with stones, as well.

Since we took ownership of the house, we’ve been busybodies updating it further. Maria decorated the home in her own way, blending styles from the ‘60s with her very own Colombian flair. Colorful benches and chairs, and a chaise lounge in the front “turret” brighten up the feeling of the house.

The front room is also where Maria shoots photos for her business, Strappy Couture. Half of the front room has been turned into a photo studio. When you enter our home, the photo studio looks like it belongs.

Paul took to updating the house in a way that aligned with his work – upgrading all of the kitchen appliances, including removing the old microwave hood and installing a kitchen hood that is vented to the exterior to accommodate all of the wonderful cooking Maria does with our dear friend and neighbor Frody. Paul upgraded the house with smart home controls, including heating, air conditioning, security lighting, music and lighting controls. 

With the help and guidance of Frody, we’ve also built garden boxes in the parking strip, creating an incredible urban garden that we are in love with. Our garden has tomatoes, pasilla chile peppers, zucchini, cucumber, beets, and grape vines that we inherited in the backyard.

The garden boxes not only help provide fresh food for our family, they also create great conversation starters, allowing us to meet new neighbors and trade some of our fresh veggies for different food with them. 

By Taylor Randle
Photos by David Ricketts

Our Victorian-style cottage was built in 1912 and is located in Poplar Grove just five minutes west of downtown Salt Lake City.

Some of the best features of “this old house” are its beautiful original wood flooring, its high ceilings (with a secret hidden ceiling in the master bedroom) and the large master suite and attached master bathroom, which features original exposed brick, a claw foot tub and a pedestal sink.

It has a wonderfully remodeled two-bedroom, two-bathroom interior and was newly painted a trendy gray with white trim on the exterior. With the open layout of this home, all areas provide large gathering or work spaces, including the huge pantry and kitchen.

The home was remodeled by the previous owners, but we have recently replaced the sewer ejection pump and turned the claw foot tub into a stand up shower. We painted a wall in the kitchen and added grass, flowerbeds, a raised veggie garden box and a fire pit to the back yard. We’ve also removed random cement slabs from the ground. 

Resting on one of the largest lots on its street at .25 acres, our home has plenty of room for activities and pets. The property once housed a single-car garage and enclosed chicken coop where we found cardboard sewing patterns built into the walls as insulation. Our research found that the patterns are now worth $200 or more. When the garage and coop had to be torn down due to the hazardous condition they were in, the antique windowpanes and door were salvaged and are currently used as home and yard décor.

Our home will be going up for sale in October of 2018.

By Davey Davis

We bought our house two years ago because it was about as small, efficient, and easy to work on as you could imagine – a fixer-upper, starter home for a lower-income student/nonprofit-employee couple.

Everything in our house is a little crooked: the windows, the doorways, the floors, maybe a wall or two, so the bar is low when it comes to working on it. We love what it has become: modest, low-stress, cozy, filled with goofy art, easy to heat, cool and maintain.

The house was built in 1905. It is a single-story cottage/bungalow divided into five interconnected rooms with no hallways. The bathroom is basically a closet that connects the kitchen and a second bedroom, and the basement is a partially finished dugout perfect for art projects and bike repair, as well as easy access to plumbing and wiring. 

After being home to an elderly woman and her cats for decades, it had been done up as a typical renter/flipper, with cheap carpets and fixtures and discount tile everywhere. The house was inexpensive because it is on a tiny lot with another house shoehorned in behind it, and it needed a new roof. 

We immediately got to work, tearing up the carpet and sanding and sealing the old fir, double-layered subfloor in the bedrooms into a warm, deep-finish surface. The tiny bathroom was gutted and subway tiled. We did a skim coat of concrete over the tile in the kitchen, built new cabinets with butcher-block countertops, put up some shelves throughout and laid new hardwood in the living/dining room.

We also built in an accessory gas fireplace to give the place a cozy hearth for Christmas. When we replaced the roof, we put a dozen solar panels on it, which have thus far generated enough electricity to cover our entire annual usage.

With the exception of the solar and the roof, all the work was done by the two of us. We learned, fought, broke things, and generally had a great time. KSL classifieds was our best friend as we scavenged materials and came up with weird solutions, including a claw-foot tub from a farmhouse in Logan, a butcher-block workbench from an octogenarian electrician in Provo, and a chandelier light from a late 1800s bordello in Carson City, Nevada.

We've filled the house with local art, random antiques, and books – as well as two humans and two dogs. It's a never-ending project (don't even get us started on the train-wreck of a yard), but we're happy to call this crooked little place home. 

by Amy Macintyre

The first time we saw our home, we were seated in our living room over 2,000 miles away in New Jersey. The housing market was so competitive last summer, and we had nearly given up on the idea of homeownership by our scheduled move to Salt Lake City in mid August of 2017.

Then, a search on Zillow turned up the perfect house – a historic home on a beautiful property blocks away from downtown.

Nick, who grew up in Salt Lake City, sent his family to see the listing, and they immediately decided this was our future house. With their help and that of our wonderful realtor, Joan Pate, the house was soon to be ours, sight unseen.

Our small Victorian eclectic home was built around 1886, and every renovation reveals a little bit of history from the past 130 years. Behind the drywall are layers of paint and wallpaper chosen by all the previous homeowners, giving us a glimpse into the many eras it has stood.

A home like this, standing after so long in this city, is not just a testament to its architectural integrity, but the love each person has put into it over the years.

As first-time homeowners, a 132-year-old house is a crash course in home repairs and maintenance. As soon as one repair is made, another pipe begins to leak or an appliance breaks down. It’s truly a labor of love (and mild frustration).

Our favorite feature of this home is the quarter of an acre it sits on. We spent many days this spring building the vegetable garden of our dreams. We used the clay-fired bricks we found scattered and buried around the property for the walkways and built raised beds in a unique and functional design.

It is quite the step up from growing tomatoes and peppers in buckets on the roof of our old one-bedroom apartment just one year ago.

The best part of this home is being able to share it with family and friends. Whether it’s having a barbecue in the backyard with our loved ones or hosting our East Coast friends before a mountain adventure, it’s the perfect gathering space.

We also love exploring our new neighborhood. We bike or run on the Jordan River Parkway almost daily, and we frequent the International Peace Garden to walk our dog and get ideas for our garden. We’ve tasted tacos, tamales and enchiladas from each nearby Mexican restaurant, and it’s too hard to pick a favorite. I think we can officially declare that the west side is the best side in Salt Lake City, and we are grateful to live here.

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