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Pasta Manufacturing Facility Will House Artists in Salt Lake City

Published by Mark O’Meara on Friday, February 5, 2016

Journal cover February 2016   Download PDF

The Western Macaroni Manufacturing Company built a warehouse in 1900 in Salt Lake City to manufacture its pasta for national distribution. Fast forward 116 years and the building–in the Depot District on the west side of the city–is being repurposed into a mixed-use development called Artspace Macaroni Flats, with affordable housing and work space for artists, nonprofits and startup companies.

“The Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City (RDA) and Artspace wanted the Macaroni building renovated to preserve a piece of Salt Lake’s history,” said Jessica Norie, president of Artspace, which creates affordable live and work space for artists, cultural organizations, nonprofits and others to revitalize and promote stable, vibrant and safe communities “Due to Artspace’s track record of rehabilitating historic buildings and success in community revitalization, the RDA provided the Macaroni building at no cost in order to initiate the larger plan for the future of the area. And our office is adjacent to this building.” The project is located on a 0.29-acre remediated brownfield in a very low-income, high crime neighborhood.” The Depot District is highly distressed, with a 46 percent poverty rate and an unemployment rate that is 1.9 times higher than the national average, according to Artspace.  The building has been vacant for the past decade.

When construction is completed in November, Artspace Macaroni Flats will feature 13 apartments reserved for tenants earning 80 percent of the area median income (AMI) and below, as well as 5,000 square feet of affordable commercial space for local artists, nonprofits, small businesses and others. Each workspace will be between 500 and 1,000 square feet. Norie said that Artspace, by providing move-in ready commercial spaces with affordable set rents and no common area maintenance fees, allows the artists and small local businesses to focus on their craft and not their expenses. In addition, the building will have many energy-efficiency amenities, including solar photovoltaic panels, a solar hot water heating system and a rainwater harvesting system. Furthermore, the development is close to the light rail system, making it easy for residents to get around town while decreasing their transportation costs, said Norie.

The development of Artspace Macaroni Flats is just the start of the revitalization in the area. The Depot District project area is targeted for redevelopment and included in the RDA’s master plan for the community. Norie said that Artspace Macaroni Flats will be the first project in the larger, approximately 10-acre development plan. The major driving principles that informed the creation of this plan include creating a pedestrian-oriented public realm that is scaled to people; retaining the existing historically significant buildings and other site attributes to help preserve the industrial heritage of the area; and to reduce crime resulting from vacant buildings by encouraging more active uses in the area, said Norie. By contributing to the redevelopment of this neighborhood, Norie said that Artspace will help continue to transform this community into a cultural hub while initiating the development of Salt Lake City’s vision for the future of the Depot District. Currently, the surrounding community includes a mix of residential properties and industrial manufacturing sites and is plagued by high crime, vacant warehouses and empty lots, according to Artspace.

Preserving History

“There are very few of these warehouses left on the west side of Salt Lake City,” Kevin Zandberg, project manager at MJSA Architects, which worked as the historic consultant and architect. MJSA Architects is assisting Artspace with the design and preservation work; Parts 1, 2 and 3 of the historic tax credit (HTC) application; and helped on the seismic upgrade. “Our goal, typically, is to make these buildings look like they have aged gracefully. We want some of that character to show through. We don’t want it to look like a new building,” said Zandberg.  

To preserve the former macaroni manufacturing facility, Zandberg said the windows were replaced with historically accurate replicas, using single-paned glass. On the exterior, he said the brick masonry work on the façade was preserved and the loading dock and its canopy on the east side of the building will be refurbished. On the interior, the wood framing and heavy timber structure of the building will be preserved. Zandberg liked that some of the larger structural support beams will remain exposed. In terms of challenges, Zandberg said it is always tricky to balance preserving the historic character of a building while updating the building to 21st-century standards. This includes meeting new energy requirements and making seismic upgrades while maintaining the building’s original look.


U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation (USBCDC) invested in the federal new markets tax credits (NMTCs), as well as the federal and state HTCs. It provided $2.3 million in NMTC equity, $1.2 million in federal HTC equity and $501,000 in state HTC equity. “Artspace is a repeat customer of ours who has delivered in the past,” said Andrew Farrell, project manager at USBCDC. In fact, USBCDC has now done three developments with the sponsor and four with Community Development Finance Alliance (CDFA), the lone NMTC allocattee. “The city has a master plan in place to revitalize the entire area. We are trying to get that first pioneer in place to rehabilitate the area,” said Farrell.  

CDFA provided a $7 million NMTC allocation and a $4.7 million leverage loan. Staci Olsen, new markets program manager at CDFA, said she liked this development because it supported CDFA’s mission of mixed-use projects that have strong impacts on distressed communities. The project will provide an estimated 12 full-time permanent jobs, six of which will go to those who live in low-income communities. “Historic tax credits have changed a lot since the last time we did one, [which] was before the [Historic] Boardwalk Hall issuance,” Olsen said.  

Other financing included a $1.5 million bridge loan and $2.2 million in equity from Artspace, a $500,000 loan from Ally Bank and a $500,000 loan from American Express.

“This is exactly what these tax credit programs were designed to do; preserve a historic structure while bringing a formerly vacant building back into good economic standing,” said John Sciarretti, a  partner in Novogradac & Company LLP Dover, Ohio office, which assisted with transaction structuring and financial modeling  for the project.

Artspace Macaroni Flats


  • $7 million NMTC allocation from Community Development Finance Alliance
  • $4.7 million leverage loan from Community Development Finance Alliance which includes
  • $2.2 million in equity from Artspace
  • $1.5 million bridge loan against the HTC equity and developer fee provided by Morgan Stanley to Artspace
  • $500,000 loan from Ally Bank
  • $500,000 loan from American Express
  • $2.3 million in NMTC equity from U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation
  • $1.2 million in federal HTC equity from U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation
  • $501,000 in state HTC equity from U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation


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