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The City Journals

What is a density ‘buy-up’?

Apr 01, 2021 02:42PM ● By Erin Dixon

The Park Valley Townhomes are part of the larger Highlands project that uses a unique system of “buy-ups.” The developer will include more amenities for the project area and the city will more likely approve a slightly higher density. (Screenshot)

By Erin Dixon | [email protected]

West Jordan open land has been filling in with developments—residential, commercial and industrial. In early March, the city council discussed the density of a new residential development, Park Valley Townhomes with 217 units near 7652 South Highlands Loop Road. This development is part of the larger Highlands Master Plan.

During the discussion, the term “buy-up” was used. What is a density buy-up? 

West Jordan city code states, “A developer may elect to install open space and recreational amenities/facilities . . . to obtain density bonus awards up to a maximum of twenty two (22) points.” 

“This means that there is a potential of a 22% increase in density that could be added to the base density,” Scott Langford, West Jordan community development director, said. “This density buy-up system was meant to incentivize better-quality developments.” 

This means if a developer adds additional amenities such as a clubhouse, playground, dog park, etc., then the council is more likely to approve an increase of residences per acre. In this case, the range of density possible is nine to 18 units per acre. This development was approved at 12.7 units per acre because of the addition of a dog park, additional parking for an adjacent park, and a community-covered barbecue area. 

“The Highlands Master Plan was essentially the only area of the city that implemented this zoning strategy before it was repealed,” Langford said. “In my opinion, there is a visible difference in the way this area looks and feels when compared to other more traditional developments within the city.”