For the fourth year in a row, the city of Vineyard in Utah County — on the site of the former Geneva steel mill — is America’s fastest-growing city with a population of at least 1,000, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates released Thursday.
Its population boomed by 63% last year, up by 3,877 people to 10,052.
Vineyard isn’t the only fast-growing city in Utah. Herriman ranked No. 24 nationally, and West Haven in Weber County was No. 33. For larger cities with at least 50,000 residents, South Jordan ranked No. 12 nationally.
“Growth just seems to be unending here. I know it will probably end someday, but not in my lifetime,” said Pam Perlich, senior demographer at the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.
Back in 2010, the sleepy town of Vineyard had a population of only 139. By 2017, it was 6,175. Last year, the Census Bureau estimated it had grown to 10,052 — as of July 1.
“The growth there is just astonishing. It’s hard not to use these sorts of superlative words, even as a data analyst, when you look at the amount of growth that’s taking place in Utah County,” Perlich said.
Vineyard City Administrator Jacob Hargue said the new Census estimates now are nearly a year out of date and don’t include growth since July. “We figure the population now is about 15,000."
He said people flock there because it is the only significant area of open space in the middle of Utah County. It has easy access off Interstate 15, and FrontRunner is adding a commuter train station there soon.
“We are a 20-minute commute for anywhere from the Point of the Mountain to Spanish Fork,” he said. “I think people like being part of something new, and they really like the direction the city is going. We’re working really hard on economic development to bring in unique businesses and entertainment.”
He added that a new city center development is about to begin near the shore of Utah Lake and the planned new train station. “I see our growth continuing.”
Growth also is booming especially in southern Salt Lake County and northern Utah County. Perlich expects that to continue, and even accelerate when the current Utah State Prison closes and the site is opened up to development.
The Census Bureau estimates that Herriman grew by 14.4% (5,639 people), Eagle Mountain by 10.9% (3,877 people), American Fork by 10.3% (3,042), South Jordan by 4.4% (3,122), Bluffdale by 9% (1,211) and Saratoga Springs by 6.3% (1,866).
Tami Moody, spokeswoman for Herriman, said it continues to grow so fast because “we have land left in our city for development, and some surrounding cities are almost all built out. Herriman has the ability to build out to 140,000 people, but our goal is to keep that closer to 100,000” to protect open space.
She adds, “It’s a great place to raise children. We have some incredible parks and we’re very community centered, which I think entices people to come and live here."
While parts of Salt Lake and Utah counties have been growing, the Census Bureau estimated that Provo had a population drop of 816 people last year and that Salt Lake City added only 21 people. Local experts doubt those numbers.
Perlich said the census numbers likely overestimated growth in Salt Lake City in 2017 because developers rushed to obtain building permits before a planned building moratorium, and actually built the units later in 2018. The Gardner Institute believes the city actually added nearly 2,000 people last year.
Wayne Parker, Provo’s chief administrative officer, said a small decrease there was possible. But says growth is continuing, and 3,000 new residential units — mostly apartments — are currently in the approval pipeline there.
Other fast-growing cities in Utah last year included: West Haven, up 12.6% (1,706 people); Elk Ridge in southern Utah County, up 8.1% (303 people); Hurricane, up 6.1% (1,054 people); and Santa Clara, up 6% (445 people).
The top 10 cities in Utah by population are: Salt Lake City (200,591); West Valley City (136,401); Provo (116,702); West Jordan (116,046); Orem (97,521); Sandy (96,901); Ogden (87,325); St. George (87,178); Layton (77,303); and South Jordan (74,149).
The smallest incorporated town in Utah is Scofield, population 23. The Census Bureau estimates that it grew by one person last year.