Draper • With the old Utah State Prison razed and gone, The Point is finally getting off the ground.
Utah’s multibillion-dollar redevelopment of its former prison site in Draper took a dramatic leap forward Monday, with the release of formal plans for the core of the new community, now poised to rise at the Point of the Mountain in rapidly growing southern Salt Lake County.
State leaders also inked a deal with their chosen private-sector development partners, a consortium of companies called Innovation Point Partners, to muster investments worth upwards of $2.3 billion into the choice real estate along Interstate 15, and begin to build that central 100-acre portion of the massive public project.
Together, Monday’s release of a master plan for The Point’s first phase and ceremonial signing with three development firms marked a shift away from years of public input and detailed planning — and into initial construction of key buildings, amenities and supporting infrastructure, now set to start this spring.
“We’ve selected world-class partners who are ready to build a world-class development,” said Alan Matheson, executive director of The Point, before the signing. “This is something that generations of Utahns can be proud of.”
Utah Rep. Burgess Owens, whose Congressional district spans the site, praised the project’s planning, while noting that Utah is the nation’s fastest-growing state.
“It’s a secret we cannot hold on to any longer, so people are going to come to you,” the Republican said. “So we know we’re going to grow. Let’s do it smart.”
The plan for the central 98.5 acres of the project includes nearly 2.3 million square feet of high-end office space, as well as hotels, shopping districts, ample open spaces, a network of trails and up to 3,300 new housing units, of which about 400 dwellings are to be kept affordable to those making average wages for the region.
One of first phase’s crown jewels is an appealing “river to range” retail promenade running along a rejuvenated segment of the Jordan River. The eye-catching amenity is to be centered on pedestrians, and will feature shops and dining attractions new to Utah. It will be anchored by a regional entertainment venue — with up to 3,000 seats — for concerts, sports and digital gaming events.
The Point’s first presence will also feature several large interconnected parks, to be called Central Green and Chapel Green, to complement a system of verdant walkways and other open spaces.
Phase one also aims to jumpstart with idea of The Point as an “innovation district” — devoted to fostering research, commercializing new technologies to Utah’s gain and spurring economic growth. Initial construction on the first 100 acres will feature a five-story Convergence Hall, devoted to research and instruction, and a pedestrian-oriented Innovation Alley of art galleries, retail outlets, eateries and creative spaces.
The new master plans calls for a new FrontRunner station, which state lawmakers have funded, as well as 16 acres of parks and green spaces laced into the future community. That’s along with more than 10 miles of walkways and trails threaded through The Point for a regional recreation system.
With a multi-phased approach to redevelopment to be spread over nearly 600 state-owned acres where the 72-year-old penitentiary once stood, Matheson said The Point “will enhance quality of life in a number of ways, providing jobs, housing opportunities, places for recreation and entertainment, a place of innovation.”
The hope is, officials said, this first amenity-heavy portion of the redevelopment will accelerate the rest over the coming decade and beyond.
Once-in-a-lifetime project takes shape
The state of Utah chose a collection of developers as its partner on the huge public-works project in mid-2022. They are: Lincoln Property Company, with headquarters in Dallas; Colmena Group of Salt Lake City; and Wadsworth Development Group in Draper.
Patrick Gilligan, executive vice president of Lincoln Property, the project’s lead developer, said Monday the company was focused on making The Point authentic to Utah.
“Every great real estate project anywhere in the world tells a story,” Gilligan said. “This development agreement will ensure that there is going to be a good story to be told on this site.”
The Utah Legislature has devoted $165 million toward vital infrastructure for the redevelopment, aimed at extending adjacent Porter Rockwell Boulevard and installing such utilities as water, sewer, gas, electricity and telecommunications.
A total of 252 buildings that made up Utah State Prison have been demolished, save for the historic Chapel by the Wayside, which was built by inmates in 1961. That’s been preserved as a nod to prison history and the legacy of faith, officials said, in founding the state of Utah.
The small chapel will now be a cornerstone of The Point’s Chapel Green park space, according to the latest plans.
Meanwhile, crews finished a new $1 billion, 1.3 million-square-foot Utah State Correctional Facility on the western edge of Salt Lake City in 2022, and more than 2,400 prison inmates were bused there in summer 2022.
Local and statewide benefits
The mayors of Draper, which encompasses The Point, and nearby South Jordan both welcomed Monday’s announcements, which followed more than a year of negotiations with developers and almost a decade of work at the state level.
Draper Mayor Troy Walker said plans for The Point called for high density, as per the public’s wishes, and also allowed for flexibility in its construction timeline, to let builders adjust to fluctuations in real estate markets.
Walker, a biking enthusiast, also touted The Point’s placement near the border of Salt Lake and Utah counties, its recreation opportunities and the links its network of trails would forge with the regional Jordan River Parkway Trail, extending from Ogden to the northern tip of Utah Lake.
“In just a few months,” he told about 100 state, city and business officials gathered in Draper for Monday’s announcement, “you’re going to see this place transform into our future.”
From here, the mayor added, “it’s nothing but up.”
Mayor Dawn Ramsey of South Jordan said The Point’s anticipated contribution in reducing traffic congestion and improving air quality, via mass transit and other alternative modes of transportation, would amplify the project’s regional benefit.
Ramsey also noted the state’s plan to use some revenues from The Point to build a new housing trust fund, which will help to bolster more affordable housing statewide.
“We all know there is only so much space,” she said, “so we’re very excited about the future of this.”