Developers call on Utahns to help design ‘Focal Point’ to be a beacon of state pride
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DRAPER — Many major development projects and cities around the world have a defining feature in which communities take pride in and rally around. The Bean in Chicago, the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Statue of Liberty in New York City are just a few noteworthy landmarks that come to mind.
Utahns have made it abundantly clear that they want something similar at The Point, according to Alan Matheson, executive director of The Point community development project, which is taking shape over the site of the old state prison in Draper.
The Point aims to be a living-working community that will feature high walkability, with everything within a 15-minute walk from its heart, a river-to-mountain range trail accessible from the community, including retail, entertainment, innovation, educational, office and residential spaces.
“Leaders of our state and members of the public have consistently said they think that we ought to have something that is distinctively Utah here —something that reflects our values and would help define our state, attract visitors and residents to The Point, and help inspire and lift our vision a little bit,” Matheson said.
With that in mind, developers of The Point launched a survey asking Utahns what type of iconic feature they would like to see as “The Focal Point” of the development. Last July, The Point administered a similar survey to collect ideas and concepts people might like to see at the property, which garnered around 1,800 responses.
“Consistently, they wanted a large, interesting architectural structure at the site, as well as some smaller art pieces throughout the project and parks areas that are accessible to the public,” Matheson said.
So far, the latest survey has received around 1,400 responses.
Art master plan
Beyond “The Focal Point,” Matheson said that developers put out a request for proposals from consultants, to put together a master arts plan that will link various artistic themes throughout the development.
“That’ll kind of link various themes. It’ll provide interest at the site,” he said. “I think art features of different kinds throughout the project, but also how ‘The Focal Point’ might fit within that broader plan.”
While some may wonder why the development is working on an art plan, Matheson believes good public art can add real estate value while also inspiring the people who will live and work at The Point.
Further north, the 9th and 9th Whale statue in Salt Lake City, designed by Utah artist Stephen Kesler, has served as a focal point for that community.
“Good public art … provides, I think, a sense of place — a place where people throughout the region and, frankly, throughout the world, will want to come and maybe think in different ways or just find some peace or enjoyment around the creativity of others,” Matheson said. “Utahns are creative.”
After the survey hones in on what Utahns want to see and some specific ideas, he said they will conduct a design contest to explore ideas before again asking the public to pick something from those design ideas that will resonate with all Utahns while also attracting people from around the world.
Matheson said he expects the design contest to kick off later in 2024.
Why should people outside of The Point care?
While Matheson realizes that not everyone throughout the Beehive State will be involved in The Point, he still sees it as a “statewide project.”
“The benefits that come from this — in terms of research and innovation that come to this area, in terms of new revenues to the state — they’ll benefit people throughout the state,” Matheson said, pointing to the businesses that The Point hopes to attract that will employ people throughout Utah.
“We are building a city that’s future-focused,” he continued. “It’s showing how we can grow more efficiently and effectively without compromising the things that we care about here — our water, our air, our beauty, the quality of life that we enjoy.”
Matheson hopes The Point and “The Focal Point” will serve as a sense of pride for Utah.
“This is more than just development,” Matheson said. “This is about people’s lives and a place where people can come together and think big; where we can innovate and help solve the problems in our community.”
The public can access the survey here, and it’s anticipated to close on Aug. 31.
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Logan Stefanich is a reporter with KSL.com, covering southern Utah communities, education, business and military news.