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Draper Journal

World-renowned firm hired to create master plan for The Point

Jan 25, 2021 11:04AM ● By Mimi Darley Dutton

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) was hired to create a master plan for The Point. SOM used this rendering in their presentation to The Point’s selection committee. (Courtesy The Point, For Illustrative Purposes Only © SOM)

By Mimi Darley Dutton | [email protected]

A landscape currently dominated by a 70-year-old prison and barbed wire will transform into an economic and education hub with open space, housing, restaurants and retail accessed by multimodal transportation. As the next step in bringing that vision for The Point to fruition, world-renowned consulting firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) was hired to create a master plan for the 600 acres of state-owned land.

The Point of the Mountain State Land Authority initially considered the proposals of 12 firms and narrowed that to three finalists. Each finalist was provided with results from a state-wide survey titled “Make the Point,” conducted in fall 2020. The finalists were also provided with a report written by The Point’s five working groups. Those working groups include Stakeholders, Education and Innovation, Environment and Air Quality, Infrastructure and Land Use, and Economic Development. In mid-December, The Point announced that SOM was chosen for the job. 

“SOM and its subconsultants possess the expertise to support The Point’s delivery of an iconic community intended to stimulate economic development, preserve the natural environment, improve air quality and enhance Utahns’ quality of life. The depth and breadth of their planning portfolio is a testament to their capabilities. Their global experience coupled with their strong Utah connections makes them the perfect fit for the job,” said Alan Matheson, executive director of The Point. 

The firm’s recent portfolio includes the Treasure Island project in the San Francisco area and work with the University of California, Merced, with a focus on sustainable growth. Sustainability was identified by The Point’s working groups as a top focus and one of the key vision elements for that area as it is developed for the future. In Utah, SOM worked on the University of Utah’s master plan, and the 111 Main office tower and the 222 S. Main buildings in Salt Lake City. According to The Point, SOM has an extensive team of Utah subconsultants including WSP, Hales Engineering, Somers-Jaramillo + Associates, and Great Basin Engineering.

Christina Oliver, Draper City’s Community Development director, served on The Point’s selection committee for a master planner. “We recognize the unprecedented potential The Point has to improve our quality of life by providing opportunities for regional trail connections, recreational amenities, high-paying jobs, shopping and entertainment. As a selection committee, we carefully reviewed all proposals through a rigorous, competitive and transparent process managed by the state. I was impressed by the caliber of proposals we received from internationally recognized firms,” she said. 

SOM will begin the process immediately with the following stages happening in 2021:

  1. Initial scoping (January & February) – includes a site evaluation, assessment of prior public input, assemble existing plans and studies of the site, and performing transportation, land use and economic development modeling.
  2. Scenario Development (March & April) – create conceptual scenarios to identify different possible approaches to development. Use analytical tools to reveal how the scenarios will perform relative to key economic and quality of life measures.
  3. Preferred Alternative (May & June) – after scenarios have been vetted and the public has an opportunity for input, the planning team will refine several scenarios to create a preferred alternative for public consideration.
  4. Final Plan (Summer) –The Point Master Plan will be created to provide a framework for development, with built-in flexibility to accommodate changes in market conditions, future public input, etc.

“We think this is a remarkable opportunity, and as we went through the process, SOM confirmed this is a rare and special opportunity anywhere in the country. We need to have the imagination and will to take advantage of that opportunity. We’ll give it our best thinking, take the long view and try to set a standard for sustainable development others can follow,” Matheson said. 

A new Utah Correctional Facility is under construction. It is anticipated that inmates will be relocated to the new facility in mid-2022 and the master plan will begin to take shape after that. According to the contract, SOM is not to exceed $561,000 for creation of the master plan. The Point plans to solicit ongoing public input during the master planning process through their website, social media platforms, another survey, and virtual public open houses on the draft preferred framework plan prior to its finalization.