Blog Post

The Point of the Mountain is beginning to boil

By: Natalie Gochnour

Originally published in the Deseret News

You can always tell when a pot of water is ready to boil. Hundreds of small air pockets begin to accumulate. Within seconds the tipping point occurs and the boiling begins.

While not a perfect comparison, a similar phenomenon is occurring at the nexus of Utah’s two largest counties. What locals call the “Point of the Mountain” is reaching an economic boiling point. The growth of Salt Lake and Utah counties are coming together. It’s the most significant change in Utah’s urban dynamics in a generation, and it presents significant economic opportunity.

Like a pot of hot water, the boiling signs have been present for some time. The area from Lehi to Draper is teeming with life. I’m told this stretch of land along I-15 has more commercial real estate transactions than any other area in the state right now. New businesses, restaurants, and residential developments are thriving. Major technology firms like eBay, Adobe, Xactware, IM Flash and others call this area home, and more are on the way.

Importantly, the area is near equal distance from the University of Utah and Brigham Young University, with Utah Valley University and Salt Lake Community College cradled nearby. The location around the Point of the Mountain maximizes access to many Utah institutions of higher learning.

Also important are significant transportation investments in the area such as the rebuild of I-15 and development FrontRunner commuter rail. Investment creates the catalyst for an economic boil, and Utah taxpayers have literally paved the way.

So what’s the difference between a very hot pot of water and a rapid boil? For this area the answer lies in the relocation of the Utah State Prison. We have a single landowner — whose purpose is to serve the public good — in charge of 700 acres of prime real estate. There is a significant state interest in directing this development towards the greatest state benefit.

Legislators recognize the opportunity and feel the urgency. State Sen. Jerry Stevenson recently said, “We only have one chance to do it right.” He’s spot-on. Utah’s two largest counties will only connect once. There’s no other 700-acre plot of land in the area that the state can direct to a public purpose. Once it’s done, it’s done.

Success is not guaranteed. To avoid boiling over or boiling dry, this area of the state will benefit from a meaningful public process that creates a vision for the future. Th