Major efforts kicked off Monday for one of the most significant economic development opportunities in Utah history. State and local officials announced the hiring of a nationally recognized planning expert and initiated the master planning process for the 700 acres of state-owned property at the Utah State Prison in Draper. They also released a statewide survey to solicit public input that will help to guide the process.
Recently named “The Point,” the site is at the epicenter of one of the fastest growing areas in the country and at the heart of Utah’s burgeoning technology sector, “Silicon Slopes.” Strategically planned development at the site will provide an unprecedented opportunity to maximize the public’s investment, create tens of thousands of high-paying jobs and catalyze cutting-edge research and innovation.
The Point is well-served by high-capacity roadway infrastructure, including Interstate 15, Bangerter Hwy., and 600 W., and public transit such as existing commuter rail and planned extensions of transit service through the site. The Point will also serve to connect major regional trail networks. Officials are responsibly planning infrastructure investments that enhance mobility in the area and reduce the impacts of future development on the transportation system.
“The Point is unlike anything we have seen in the history of Utah and an opportunity that we rarely see anywhere else in the world,” said Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, co-chair of The Point of the Mountain State Land Authority. “Development at the site, coupled with the opening of the newly rebuilt Salt Lake International Airport, signals a critical milestone as Utah competes in an increasingly globalized economy and becomes a renowned destination for research, innovation and sustainability.”
Per state law, the Point of the Mountain State Land Authority is an 11-member board tasked with overseeing the planning, management and development at The Point. The Board has hired Steve Kellenberg, a nationally renowned planning expert who has literally written the book on sustainable communities, to oversee planning efforts for the site. Kellenberg has worked on large-scale developments around the world, including the Middle East, China, Singapore and South America. In addition to hiring Kellenberg, the Board has released a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to hire a planning consultant team that will help create the master plan.
Work to plan the site is the next step in a multiyear process intended to coordinate a sustainable approach to growth for the broader Point of the Mountain region. “We did not get to this point overnight,” said State Rep. V. Lowry Snow, Co-Chair of The Point of the Mountain State Land Authority. “We have worked diligently for many years to establish a regional vision, laying the groundwork literally and figuratively for these planning efforts.”
Snow led the regional visioning effort for The Point of the Mountain area from 2016 to 2018. The process involved thousands of Utahns and developed a framework for the current planning phase of the project. The visioning process determined that if done right, development at The Point and the surrounding 20,000 undeveloped acres would generate 150,000 new high-paying jobs, an additional $10,000 in average annual household income for Utah families and $7.7 billion and $1.4 billion respectively in state and municipal revenues by 2050. It would also reduce the amount of time drivers spent stuck in traffic by 20 minutes during peak travel periods.
“We are committed to making The Point a sustainable development and an accessible destination for everyone,” said Alan Matheson, The Point executive director. “We have a duty to make prudent decisions that will directly benefit current and future generations of Utahns. We intend to plan and develop The Point in a way that facilitates mobility, improves air quality, and ultimately enhances our quality of life.”
Officials point to the generational significance of the site in the context of the state’s demographics. Utah boasts the youngest population in the country, with hundreds of thousands of digital natives in Utah’s two most populous counties. Consequently, Utah’s young workforce possess the skills and digital competency to thrive in the job markets of the future.
“Utah is quickly becoming one of the top innovation markets in the country,” said Theresa Foxley, president and CEO of the Economic Development Corporation of Utah. “With Salt Lake and Utah Counties projected to have nearly 1.5 million people each by 2060, The Point is perfectly situated between two major labor sheds and will serve to catalyze and accelerate important economic and educational opportunities.”
The Point of the Mountain State Land Authority has assembled five working groups composed of dozens of public- and private-sector subject-matter experts. Collectively representing some of Utah’s best and brightest minds, working group members will provide input and advice to the Land Authority as planning and development efforts move forward.
“While we do not yet have a specific plan for this site, we are taking our cues from the regional visioning process and ongoing public input,” said Matheson. “We envision a robust, thriving, future-focused community of which all Utahns can be proud.”