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HOK Helps Utah Plan for “Once in a Generation” Redevelopment Opportunity

Slated to be constructed on the site of the Draper Prison, a section of the Point of the Mountain redevelopment aims to bolster the Salt Lake City area’s flourishing tech corridor.

Excerpted from the Deseret News:

It’s an opportunity that’s been described as “once in a generation,” “unprecedented” and “unlike anything, anywhere else.”

And now, an 11-member state board begins the work of overseeing how to make the best use of the 700-acre Draper prison site set to be vacated sometime in 2022 when the new facility, currently under construction in west Salt Lake City, opens for business.

The attributes that have driven the accolades include the size of the property, its location in the center of one of the fastest-growing areas in the country—one that has also become the epicenter of Utah’s booming tech economy—and that the entire parcel is owned by the state. Taken together, a well-executed redevelopment plan could become one of the biggest economic leverage opportunities Utah has ever encountered, according to experts.

HOK has worked on large-scale redevelopment projects around the world and was retained by the state as a consultant to help create a vision for how to best reutilize the prison site. Brian Jencek, HOK’s director of planning, told lawmakers last year that the chance to redevelop the prison property was a standout, even when viewed through a global lens.

“It’s incredibly unique,” Jencek said. “I think that you’re onto something incredibly powerful here. I know of no other area where so many people are concentrated in such a tight corridor that has, suddenly, such a large available piece of land. What major American—even international city—of this density has such a large, contiguous developable site at the center? It just doesn’t happen.”

Jencek’s presentation came amid two years of work gathering public input, analysis and data to help create “preferred scenarios” for the prison site as well as thousands of acres of other undeveloped tracts in and around the Point of the Mountain area in south Salt Lake County and northern Utah County.

That planning scenario calls for a mix of residential, office, retail and light-industrial uses for the prison site, as well as robust, new public transit connections including light rail and bus rapid transit. The hoped-for anchor for the site would be a world-class research/educational facility that, according to a report released by the Point of the Mountain Development Commission, could become a magnet for talent and further investment.

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