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The City Journals

‘The Point’ is prosperity say city officials

Oct 28, 2020 03:09PM ● By Mimi Darley Dutton

By Mimi Darley Dutton|[email protected]

They say it will be an economic boon for generations to come. That’s “The Point.” 

“This 700-acres represents hope,” Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox told those gathered outside at a socially distanced, September press conference held where the state prison currently sits. “It’s a multi-generational opportunity we may never see again,” Cox said, adding that the chance to redevelop the state-owned land situated between mass transit and the tech corridor coincides well with the movement to “rethink corrections in this country.” A new prison will be built in the process at a location near the airport, one that was selected in 2015 when redevelopment plans began.

Draper Mayor Troy Walker called it “the win-win of our time.” Walker said the current prison is antiquated while the new prison will be cheaper to operate and safer for those who staff it. “Instead of being a prison, it will be a place of correction,” he said. Since the beginning of his involvement with planning for redevelopment of the site located in his city’s boundaries, Walker has envisioned a place you can get into and out of without owning a vehicle, thus helping with issues of air quality and traffic congestion, all while bringing economic prosperity to the area. “This is going to be awesome…world class,” he said. 

The project has been named The Point. Where currently the landscape is dominated by concrete and barbed wire, local leaders and politicians envision an “innovation hub” with technological advancement, cutting-edge jobs and varied employment opportunities, mixed-use development including residences, shops and restaurants, parks and open space. In addition to the state-owned 700 acres where the prison currently sits, there are 20,000 undeveloped acres in the area that will also be developed as part of The Point.

The Point of the Mountain Development Commission projects that by 2050, benefits from the proper development of the area could result in 150,000 new high-paying jobs across the Wasatch Front, an average annual income increase of $10,000 to Wasatch Front households, and an increase of billions of dollars in state and municipal revenues. 

Alan Matheson serves as Executive Director of The Point. Matheson called it one of the best development opportunities in the entire country. “Now we need the imagination and will equal to that opportunity,” Matheson said. To that end, he announced that The Point of the Mountain State Land Authority Board hired Steve Kellenberg, a nationally renowned expert on sustainable communities. Kellenberg has been tasked with creating a master plan for the site. His resume includes large-scale developments around the world including the Middle East, China, Singapore and South America. “We can create a model others can follow, with cutting edge, world-class jobs so our young people can stay here, close to family,” Matheson said. 

Following the hiring of Kellenberg, Matheson indicated the next step will be hiring a planning team from a worldwide search. “We’ll select the top firm to start beginning in 2021,” he said. Implementation of that plan will happen in 2022 and beyond. 

According to The Point’s officials, Utah has the youngest population in the country, making for a young and digitally competent workforce. They feel that workforce will thrive in the job markets of the future, and that The Point is the perfect location for a great deal of that growth because it is situated between Salt Lake and Utah counties, both projected to grow to a population of 1.5 million people each by 2060.

Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson said she greatly values that she can get to Draper, Herriman, Magna and back to Salt Lake City easily, but she knows that’s not the case for many cities in the nation. “We need to move throughout our county. We can’t be socked in because that would be the failure of us all. Our land use is tied to our economic success,” Wilson said. 

Theresa Foxley is president and CEO of the Economic Development Corporation of Utah. Foxley said that embarking on this planning process during Covid-19 has a “silver lining” in that planners can build on lessons learned during the pandemic. 

Matheson pledged that the development’s officials will “operate with transparency and accountability” and that their meetings will be open to all and livestreamed on thepointutah.org website. 

“The biggest concern is that we wouldn’t dream big enough. We think we can do something generations forward will look back on…this site belongs to the people of Utah,” Cox said. 

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