New visions for the Point of the Mountain near Draper paint a futuristic picture amid Utah’s latest growth spurt.
The gist: Those 600 acres of state-owned land under and around the old Utah State Prison along Interstate 15 would be the Wasatch Front’s new hub for business and housing development.
The Point, as it’s being called, is coming into sharper focus as a glittering commercial venture built on the state’s hottest real estate and boasting new homes, trails, open spaces and parks along freshly restored portions of the Jordan River.
State officials and planners are seeking your input as they complete plans for the multibillion-dollar, once-in-a-lifetime development meant to benefit all Utahns. Tune in at thepointutah.org for virtual tours, hearings and public surveys to weigh in on how the project is shaping up.
• Plans for The Point call for a clear multistory business core combined with supporting innovation and learning centers, all with its own identity. Next door: Up to half The Point between southern Salt Lake and northern Utah County would be housing, centered on the site’s western acres.
• Backers and planners from Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, a Chicago-based architectural and urban planning firm, also say the place will have an iconic retail and entertainment destination at its heart with regional draw, meant to attract new businesses and residents.
• Looks like some of the state’s public schools and colleges and universities may anchor the project with a sizable satellite campus, part of a dedicated focus on the idea of innovation to create new jobs and industries.
• The huge project would involve large swaths of ecological restoration to create a new river-to-range system, overhauling the watershed and threading the development with open spaces, parks of all sizes and pedestrian and recreation corridors linking its six neighborhoods with the Jordan.
• In addition to a central park to serve as its civic core, The Point would create Jordan River Community Park along the waterway as a regional destination for river recreation and learning.
• Housing in The Point would be “a robust mix” of types built primarily to serve folks who work in the new development, all designed to reduce traffic and carbon emissions.
• Plans would create a transit loop circulating through The Point, potentially with micro-buses or autonomous vehicles carrying residents to work, home and recreation. The transportation grid would dovetail with regional bus routes, transit and roads in ways that reduce traffic overall.
A few. The Point is now cast as a new community focal point for the surrounding cities of Draper, Bluffdale and Riverton, with some new signature elements of the development coming into focus as never before.
• One is its priority on integrating development with the ecology of the site’s river watershed, which will create a water management and conservation system and restore its habitat. Several green corridors will crisscross The Point, tying together parks of all sizes and encouraging walking, biking and other ways of getting around that don’t involve automobiles.
• The development is also aiming high, at a world audience of investors and corporations, with its commercial component. Partly because the site sits at the center of Silicon Slopes, Utah’s thriving enclave of technology firms, The Point is taking on themes designed to leverage that image in a big way. The goal: Lure more employers, jobs, startups and young talented workers from elsewhere around the globe, but also, foster and even help create entirely new tech sectors.
• News that up to half the site’s available acres would go to six residential neighborhoods is huge, coming when Utah is desperate for new housing, especially more affordable single-family homes and apartments below currently rising market rates.
Why does this matter?
The Point, at least according to its supporters, is a chance at what may be the greatest public economic development venture in Utah history, akin to New Deal projects. A study that looked at The Point and the surrounding 20,000 acres estimated the land could create up to 150,000 high-paying jobs and more than $9.1 billion in new sales and income tax revenues by 2050.
The Utah Legislature has basically ordered that the highly valuable land being emptied by moving the prison north to west Salt Lake City be developed in ways that benefit the whole state and all its residents. This plan being worked up by The Point of the Mountain State Land Authority is supposed to shape how all that happens.
What’s happening now?
All but possibly a few remnants of the historic Utah State Prison are set for certain demolition by 2022. After talks and several rounds of planning since 2015, the land authority was set up in 2018 — and won further go-ahead when lawmakers met January to give the project liftoff.
After work by the Chicago consulting firm, new details are starting to take shape. Supporters are floating the latest ideas in virtual open houses and other venues to solicit input and survey residents, including an online event planned May 20 from 2 to 4 p.m.
More details are available at https://thepointutah.org/.
“There’s no better time than now to let us know what you think,” said Alan Matheson, The Point’s executive director. “Utahns are an integral part of the decision-making process, so we hope everyone will participate.”
Where to from here?
The land authority is in listening mode through May and will close its latest public surveys May 29. From there, it’ll dial in the master plan for the property even further as a prelude to digging in with construction in 2022, when the new prison site underway west of Utah’s capital is more fully operational.