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With The Prison Relocation Drawing Near, All Eyes Are On The Point Of The Mountain

A photo of the Utah State Prison location with mountains in the background.
Jon Reed
The Utah State Prison is moving from Draper to West Salt Lake City in 2022, clearing the way for “an unprecedented” development opportunity.

Planning efforts are ramping up on a site that state and local leaders called Utah’s most important development opportunity for the decades ahead. Right now, the prime real estate in Draper that officials have been eyeing for years is home to the Utah State Prison, but one day officials hope to transform it into a 21st century hub for jobs, housing and transportation.

“We've got a 700-acre blank canvas,” said Alan Matheson, executive director of the Point of the Mountain State Land Authority, the 11-member board overseeing the area’s development. “We're presented with a remarkable opportunity. Now we need imagination and will equal to that opportunity.”

Relocating the Draper prison has long been touted by state and local officials as a chance to introduce important criminal justice reforms as well as update an aging corrections facility. Above all, however, it’s seen as clearing a pathway for what officials said could be the focal point of the state’s growth in the decades to come.

The site — now dubbed “The Point”— sits on the border between Salt Lake And Utah counties, the state’s largest and fastest growing counties, respectively. It also happens to be just outside Utah’s blossoming tech hub, Silicon Slopes.

At a press conference Monday, Matheson announced the board’s hiring of mega-planner Steve Kellenberg to oversee the creation of the site’s master plan which is expected to be completed by next summer. Kellenberg will work with a yet-to-be recruited planning team to assist with the effort.

The board is also launching an extensive public outreach campaign, including a statewide survey which officials said will help refine goals for the site and influence the eventual plan.

Details are still hazy for what the area will be, but Matheson said it will balance housing, job and recreation opportunities and a potential national model for managing growth sustainably. He said one of the major goals is to help people live and work close by, so they can reduce commuting time and avoid clogging up the nearby I-15 highway.

“We'll be looking at transit very carefully,” he said, adding that the plan will allow for future technologies, such as self-charging cars developed in partnership with Utah State University. “We've got to be flexible enough that this site in a couple of decades could accommodate [things such as] air taxis, like human-moving drones.”

The 2018 legislation that created the authority board also requires planners to maintain green space and at least consider how to bring in educational opportunities to the site, such as job training centers or a “higher education presence.”

“We could just sell off the property to developers and have them do their thing,” said Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, the board’s co-chair. “There's nothing wrong with that. But we think we can do something much, much more.”

Whatever becomes of the site, it’s still years away. Construction can’t even begin until at least 2022, when the new prison in West Salt Lake City is finished. The survey will remain open through Oct. 16, and officials said all board meetings will be live-streamed and available online.

Jon reports on quality of life issues, education and the economy
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