A new neighborhood-by-neighborhood analysis shows that growth in Salt Lake County this decade has been so widespread that the population dropped in only one small area.
That area is “Census tract 1128.18” in Draper, site of the Utah State Prison — and the population decline there is welcomed by officials.
“The loss occurred due to declining prison population” — which dropped by 751, “from 3,840 at the 2010 Census to 3,089 in 2016,” says a new study on small-area population by the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.
That downward trend is expected to reverse course in the not-too-distant future. The prison will be moved to a new location near the Salt Lake City International Airport, and the current site is likely to boom with new development. It is in the heart of where the study shows most growth this decade has occurred in Salt Lake and Utah counties.
Funded by the Legislature, the institute study used building permits and other housing and construction data to estimate populations in Census tracts in Salt Lake and Utah counties — and has data available showing growth in even smaller areas.
Pam Perlich, demographics director at the institute, says such work allows local governments to make better decisions about where to locate new roads, water systems, schools and other facilities. It also acts as a watchdog on U.S. Census Bureau data, which affects federal funding for numerous programs.
Perlich and institute analyst Natalie Young, who did much of the research, said the study’s fine detail shows reasons behind growth that sometimes are missed when looking at much larger areas, such as entire counties or cities.
Among the drivers of growth identified in the study are: people seeking single family homes flocking to more affordable areas in southern Salt Lake and northern Utah counties; redevelopment of once-contaminated sites in Midvale and Vineyard; “in-fill” apartments in some older areas; and new dorms around universities.
The search for affordable single-family homes is fueling booms in some of the fastest-growing areas.
“People still want single-family homes with fenced yards,” Perlich said. “That’s increasingly difficult if not impossible anywhere except for moving out west and south in Salt Lake County, and moving into [northern] Utah County.”
The single fastest-growing area — based on the number of residents added between 2010 and 2016 — is Census tract 1130.20, part of the Daybreak community in South Jordan. Population there grew by 7,424 people, up 63.6 percent.
Two areas in Herriman were not far behind.
Census tract 1131.07, the northern portion of Herriman, gained 6,260 residents from 2010 to 2016, up 63.6 percent. The southern part of Herriman, in Census tract 1151.06, gained 5,604 residents, up 71.3 percent.
Similar growth came in areas just over the border in northern Utah County.
A Lehi area near the Point of the Mountain (and northeast of Interstate 15), Census tract 102.12, saw a growth rate of 128.4 percent — more than doubling — adding 4,984 residents so far this decade. Nearby tract 101.10 south of I-15 in Lehi saw growth of 67.5 percent, up only by 943 people.
Saratoga Springs west of Utah Lake also boomed. Its tract 101.09 added 3,771 people this decade, up 54.4 percent, and nearby tract 101.13 was up 64.6 percent adding 3,050 people.
An unusual factor behind some rapid growth is “former industrial areas that have been redeveloped,” allowing construction on once-contaminated sites, Perlich said.
That includes a former mill site in the Bingham Junction area of Midvale and the former Geneva Steel site in Vineyard.
Bingham Junction’s Census tract 1124.03 was actually the fastest-growing in Salt Lake County by percentage. Its population more than doubled, by 103. 8 percent, up 4,643 people.
That was fueled by many large apartment complexes built in the cleaned-up area, which also has a new TRAX light-rail station. That tract had the most renter-occupied units anywhere in Salt Lake County.
Census tract 22.01 — which contains all of Vineyard and part of Orem — was the fastest growing in Utah County by the number of people added during the decade: 5,762, up 115.9 percent.
Previous U.S. Census Bureau estimates said Vineyard was the fastest-growing city in Utah last year — growing sixfold in the past two years, from 611 residents to 3,953. City officials say its population has since passed 8,000.
In-fill in older areas
Some new growth is coming through construction of multi-family apartments filling in vacant space or replacing older buildings in developed areas.
“We’re seeing that in Salt Lake City, and we’re also seeing it in Provo and Pleasant Grove,” Perlich said. “You really see it in Salt Lake City, where they are going up everywhere.” She said most of that recent growth will be seen in future reports.
Young said apartments are also booming in Lehi, Vineyard, Midvale, Murray — and even Spanish Fork, which had little multi-family housing previously.
Perlich said such multi-family unit growth helps show that people are interested in many types of housing, not just the traditional single-family home. “We see real variety in where people want to live, how people want to live and the types of developments they want. It’s not just a monolithic growth that is occurring.”
New or better-filled dorms around the University of Utah and Brigham Young University have led to growth in those areas, Perlich said.
“Since 2010, both universities have had some new dormitories built,” Young said.
Perlich said the growth of students living in dorms at the University of Utah is especially interesting because “we’ve been a commuter university. There has been some push there to create living spaces for students to keep them on campus to create more of a campus experience for them.”
BYU’s replacement of some dorms led to population decreases in some Census tracts on or near campus, but increases in other tracts where relocated or new student housing was added — for overall growth in the general area, Young said.
The study notes that overall, Salt Lake County added an estimated 83,152 residents so far this decade — roughly the population of Ogden — up 8.1 percent.
Utah County added 69,295 residents in the same time, roughly the population of South Jordan. That is a 13.4 percent growth rate.