Developers pitched their dramatic vision Tuesday for a new high-density community blending thousands of new homes with shops, restaurants, parks, office towers and several breathtaking natural attractions at the site of Utah’s old prison in Draper.
Plans for the first 66-acre phase at the heart of what is being called The Point bring the most detail yet to one of the largest public projects in state history, including a showcase 1.4-mile, river-to-range stretch of green space along the Jordan River.
That landscaped corridor will connect with a new 2.5-acre “central park” to the north of the massive development, anchoring nearly 16 acres of smaller parks, verdant walkways and linking trails in The Point that will put every home and office within a two-block walk of greenery.
New schematics also feature a wide and walkable promenade to serve as the community’s Main Street, lined with up to 220,000 square feet of space for retailers and eateries along the river.
That will be tied to a sizable food hall, dubbed Taste of Place, with a variety of indoor and outdoor dining options, as well as a regional entertainment district with several performance venues and an extensive schedule of year-round programming.
Fueling the economy of the community, comparable in size to nearby Bluffdale, will be more than 2 million square feet of office space and an innovation district, powered with support from Utah’s entrepreneurs, businesses and academic circles.
The Point’s construction will be some of the densest seen anywhere in Utah, rivaling that of downtown Salt Lake City, according to Abbey Ehman, a spokesperson for Innovation Point Partners, the consortium of development firms teaming up with the state.
That group of developers — made up of Lincoln Property Co., with headquarters in Dallas; Colmena Group of Salt Lake City; and Wadsworth Development Group in Draper — was chosen in July to build on years of public input from more than 12,000 residents for what The Point should look like.
Green community built on transit, walking
In addition to taking a pedestrian-friendly approach to its entire design, amenities in The Point will be tied to world-class transit. It also will focus on multiple modes of transportation — with everything from walking, scooters and bikes to the possibility of self-driven buses on a circulator route — as well as parking designed, said Matt Howell, also with Innovation Point Partners, to get people out of their cars.
Conceptually, Ehman added, The Point also centers on mixing land uses, with no more than half the acreage devoted to residential and with homes threaded closely with commercial spaces.
She and others said that mixed-use approach — and reliance on two planned transit stations serving The Point on a specially built TRAX extension — are central to The Point’s success.
“What you’re seeing here,” Ehman told members of the Point of the Mountain State Land Authority, “is the blend of development and density with recreation and open space, because they do coexist so well.
“So you can go visit The Point and walk between all of these experience elements and really have not traveled very far,” she added. “It is all meant to be centered together and coexist in that way.”
Another key component will be use of a variety of architectural styles and building materials and facades.
“We want it to feel more like an organic village that’s been delivered over time,” Ehman said, “not just a new construction project.”
The phase one design plans for the center of The Point drew tentative approval Tuesday morning from the land authority, while it continues to finalize a development contract with Innovation Point Partners.
With Utah in the midst of a dire lack of affordable homes, the plans also call for more than 3,000 multifamily units — all intended as state-owned rentals at this stage.
Up to 20% of those dwellings will be kept more affordable, with a stated intent of creating a new community “for Utahns from all walks and stages of life.”
Phase one represents about 9% of the 600-acre site to be vacated after state lawmakers voted in 2015 to build a new correctional facility west of Salt Lake City and open the old prison locale in Draper for future development.
The first phase also will put in a critical backbone of infrastructure for the rest of the project, including crucial road improvements to Porter Rockwell Boulevard at the core of the development, in what is likely to be the start of residential and commercial construction reaching well into the next decade and beyond.
Vertical construction could begin by 2026
Demolition of the old prison started last month and will stretch well into next year.
After installation of critical utilities for The Point, vertical construction could begin as early as 2026, although officials say that will be flexible and driven by market conditions.
“It’s more important to do the right thing than to do it fast,” said Alan Matheson, executive director of the Point of the Mountain State Land Authority, overseeing the former prison site.
“We want this to be absolutely vital,” Matheson said in an interview, “as well as exciting and important to the state of Utah in 50 years, not just in five or 10.”
Matheson noted the initial plans also reflect deep Utah values that surfaced during the project’s extensive public outreach: a sense of community, economic opportunity and a priority on sustainability.
Its emphasis on transit is aimed at reducing air emissions in a portion of the Salt Lake Valley that currently sees a lot of traffic congestion. Plans say building the river-to-range feature will also help restore natural ecological habitats and wildlife along the Jordan River.
The Point is to be built with world-leading sustainability standards in mind, officials have said, with 100% drought-tolerant landscaping and a slashing of water consumption compared to similar developments that aims to save the equivalent of 250 Olympic-size swimming pools of water annually.
A recent study predicted that overall work on The Point could generate up to 46,500 jobs and $4.4 billion in annual earnings, for a boost to Utah’s yearly gross domestic product of nearly $7 billion yearly. Phase one is expected to create 14,000 high-quality jobs.