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Draper residents excited about recreational and commercial opportunities ‘The Point’ will bring to Utah prison site

Developers aim for the 600-acre project to have everything a resident might need within 15 minutes.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Jim McRae talks to concerned citizens Thursday about plans for The Point, a development project that will be built on the prison site in Draper.

Draper • After one of the biggest government-backed land developments in the history of Utah advanced to the next stage Tuesday, Draper residents visited an open house for the 600-acre project, which will be named “The Point.”

The new plans for the site of the to-be-vacated Utah State Prison were approved earlier this week by the Point of the Mountain Land Authority. Draper Mayor Troy Walker; state Rep. V. Lowry Snow, R-St. George; and The Point Executive Director Alan Matheson were among those who spoke with residents at the open house about what The Point will offer, and several were excited for the environmental and commercial opportunities the development will bring.

“[We came] just to get more info and learn kind of what they’re doing here with the project,” said Dustin Gale, a resident of Draper. “I’m excited about the trails and the green space, and just to see what becomes of the old prison.”

According to a news release from The Point, the development will feature an “iconic mixed-use community with a balanced mix of civic spaces, entertainment destinations and retail choices, extensive trails and open space, a globally attractive innovation hub, a future-focused transportation system and much more.”

“It’s fabulous,” said Susan Nixon, also a Draper resident. “I love the complexity and how it integrates everything — commercial, economic, residential, the presentation.”

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Peter Kindel, Lead Designer with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill talks about the plans for The Point, redevelopment of the prison site, on Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021.

The development will feature multiple parks and greenways for an estimated 14,800 residents, along with a connection to the Jordan River. Søren Simonsen, executive director of the Jordan River Commission, had already worked with Matheson before this project, since he previously served as the executive director of the Utah Department of Environmental Quality.

The Jordan River runs right past the new development district, so Simonsen and the commission worked with Matheson on ways to develop recreation and preserve water quality.

“Both myself and Moriah [Jackson, the commission’s project and program manager] worked with a couple of different subcommittees, mostly around environmental concerns, or around transportation and infrastructure,” Simonsen said.

“We’re just really thrilled to have been a part, and bring some important considerations relative to this great recreation and wildlife corridor into the realm of this planning process, and are pretty pleased with some of the ideas that have continued to evolve and become part of the plan that’s emerged now.”

The closer the river gets to the Great Salt Lake and Farmington Bay, the waterway collects more debris and litter, which gets flushed down into the river every time a storm hits. The plan for this new development incorporates a lot of ideas around how to filter stormwater instead of having it flow directly into the river, Simonsen said.

The development was also planned to be walkable, with references to it as a “15-minute city,” where everything a resident might need is within 15 minutes. The goal for the development is for most families to require only one car, with multiple transit options nearby like bus lines and FrontRunner stations.

“We’ve had something like 10,000 different contacts with citizens providing input,” said Snow, who also serves as co-chair of The Point of the Mountain State Land Authority. “Air quality was a really big concern. Having places for recreation and trails was a concern. Traffic is always high on the list. How do we manage and plan for additional traffic? And we tried really hard to accommodate those interests.

“We think there will be a lot of people who live there that will only own one car, and maybe spend much of their time self-contained within here fulfilling the needs that they have, without having to utilize their cars. We think with careful planning, and listening to the people, I think we’ve tried to hear them on transportation.”

Moving forward, Snow said it will be critical to find the right private development partners and the right companies that will make a home at The Point.

“We want the right ones to help enhance the economic development that we’re after here, too,” he said. “I also think working through this concept of an innovation center, that will involve our higher-ed institutions to participate in a place for research and development and innovation, it’s not going to be a huge challenge, but it’s going to take guidance and direction from the board.”

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