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State Officials Unveil Lofty Plan For ‘Utah’s Innovation Community’ At Prison Site

The Point Aerial Rendering.jpg
Courtesy of the Point of the Mountain Authority Board
Rendering of “The Point,” the futuristic, self-contained city that will take over the current site of the Utah State Prison.

State officials behind a major development project on the border between Salt Lake and Utah counties have settled on a broad framework for how the site will shape out.

It’s essentially a 600-acre miniature city — slightly smaller than a square mile — made up of several distinct commercial and residential neighborhoods, a research center, parks and even a K-8 school. The goal is to transform what is now the site of the Utah State Prison into a modern gathering place known as “The Point” and connect it seamlessly with the surrounding valley through public transit, bike paths and walking trails.

“We started with an idea of a 15-minute city,” said Peter Kindel, an urban planner with the design firm behind the plan. He said the plan allows for people within the site to be at most 15 minutes away from a public transit stop.

“That really is an essential component of innovation districts around the world in the 21st century — an idea that you can live close to work,” he said.

According to the plan released Tuesday, about 60% of the area will be developed into housing, retail space and offices. A quarter of it will be preserved for trails, parks and open space. The rest would be infrastructure and roads.

The site will be divided into seven districts, each with its own park and a slightly different function. Some will be commercial, research or entertainment centers. Others will be residential neighborhoods, with a range of housing options expected to accommodate close to 15,000 people.

The Point Bike Street Rendering.jpg
Courtesy of the Point of the Mountain Authority Board
Rendering of The Point’s Main Street and the various modes of transportation that would be used.

Carless transportation to and within the site is also a major goal of the project. Renderings show biking and walking pathways throughout the site, which would ultimately connect to the nearby Jordan Parkway and Porter Rockwell trails.

Rapid bus routes within The Point would take people to and from Frontrunner trains, while smaller, possibly automated “circulator” buses would transport people within the site.

Kindel said the idea is to not only make public or active transportation more convenient, but to cater to future generations who don’t want to spend an hour in the car on their way to work.

“I've always said if we have to do [this project] where everyone drives here by car, I don't want to do it,” said Draper Mayor Troy Walker. “The car is not the king in this endeavor.”

State and local officials hope the area will drive economic growth in the state, creating thousands of new jobs with and attracting people from across the Wasatch Front with public events, concerts and possibly a professional sports stadium.

While the project is already more than three years in the making, it still has a long way to go before any of it becomes a reality. The state prison isn’t scheduled to relocate until 2022 at the earliest. There are also a number of environmental studies and development agreements that will need to be worked out before costs are finalized and any construction begins.

“We're necessarily going to be facing some trade-offs,” said Alan Matheson, executive director of the Point of the Mountain State Land Authority. “What level of sustainability do we want? What level of smart city technologies? Understanding the costs and benefits of those different items are going to help [us] make informed decisions.”

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