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SALT LAKE CITY — Now it's the site of the soon-to-be obsolete Utah State Prison. But this week, it came another step closer to becoming one of the largest developments in Utah's history.
The grand vision for the 600-acre project, called The Point, came into sharper focus on Tuesday when the Point of the Mountain State Land Authority board voted unanimously to approve a new "framework," which gives the most detail so far for the land's future.
Its visionaries are calling it Utah's first "15-minute city" from scratch — a master planned "complete community" containing everything a person needs to live and thrive within a 15-minute walk from its heart. The plans detail a "vibrant mix" of retail, entertainment, schools, high-quality workplaces, restaurants and recreation — all within its bounds.
The Point is envisioned as a "model live-work community," the plans state, with about 40% of its developable land devoted to housing, or an estimated 7,400 residential units. The rest would be for offices, retail, mixed uses, and an "innovation center" with a focus on schools, education and business development.
It seeks to be a "business catalyst," Alan Matheson, executive director of the Point of the Mountain State Land Authority, told the Deseret News and KSL editorial boards this week, and would create an estimated 35,000 to 40,000 "high-paying, great, cutting-edge jobs."
State leaders are looking to bring a "nationally recognized research institution" to The Point, Matheson said, tasked with helping "address some of the challenges in our state and beyond." It's also envisioned to host "accelerators and incubators" to help new startup companies advance and create new economic opportunities for the region.
"This will allow our kids and grandkids to have a world-class career here in Utah and not have to look elsewhere to do that," Matheson said.
Last year, then-Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, who co-chaired the state panel tasked with redeveloping the former prison site, called the project an "unprecedented" and "multigenerational opportunity," and one for which state leaders needed to "think big."
As in, Seattle Space Needle big. Or even Paris' Eiffel Tower big.
While the latest iteration of The Point's plans doesn't propose a specific world-class monument, that's still part of the vision — but what that signature Utah monument would look like is still to be decided. It's likely a design competition will decide that element, Matheson said.
Renderings included in the plan feature a glowing blue globe, which Matheson said is only a "placeholder" for whatever that monument will turn out to be.
"The public's also going to want to see artwork. They're going to want to see signature features that will define this site globally, so yes, that's very much part of our thinking," Matheson said.
While the Point of the Mountain board voted to approve the framework plan, Matheson noted it's almost certain to change as the planning process continues.
"It's not final," he said. "One thing we can guarantee is that the final product of this site will look different from this plan, but we think this is well thought out."
To vet the framework plan, a public open house is planned for Thursday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Fred House Training Academy, 14727 S. Minuteman Drive, in Draper. It will also be livestreamed on The Point's YouTube Channel at bit.ly/thepointyoutube.
The Point development highlights
- At the center of The Point, a district called The Hub is envisioned to feature entertainment options and restaurants. Renderings show a plaza with an outdoor stage and a fountain. If Draper Mayor Troy Walker had his way, he'd like to see a "major league stadium" or a major event center to attract people across the world.
- Threaded throughout The Point, as planned, would be a web of 140 acres of open, walkable green spaces — what Matheson called "green ways" to allow people to move through the community without ever using a road. A "central park" is also planned at the center of the community.
- The West's drought is top-of-mind for Utahns. Where would all the water come from to support this massive project? Working with Draper and the local water provider, Jordan Valley Conservancy District, "they assure us the water is there," Matheson said. "Beyond that, we want this to be wise water use." He said the development will be sustainably focused, and will use about 40% of the water used in today's typical development.
"It's not going to be big grassy areas," Matheson said. "We just don't have the water for that. It will be native (plants) for the most part, although there will be some sports fields here and there."
- A "river to range" corridor would link the entire community to the Jordan River Parkway and the foothills of the Wasatch, including Draper's massive Corner Canyon hiking and biking trail network.
- For transportation, the focus is on making sure "car is not king," Walker told the Deseret News and KSL editorial boards. It's designed to be a "one-car community," where a family would likely only need one car to "take trips on the weekends," Matheson said. To do that, plans include connections to FrontRunner and two bus rapid transit lines with dedicated lanes and signal prioritization.
- Self-driving vehicles are also included in the framework, or automated "circulators" that would move people along designated routes.
Download The Point's framework plan executive summary here: ThePointFramework.pdf