SALT LAKE CITY — The Point of the Mountain Development Commission on Wednesday approved a nationwide search for consultants to come up with a plan for transforming the current site of the Utah State Prison into a technology hub.
The commission expects to spend $500,000 on the first phase of planning for the 700 acres located at the Point of the Mountain in Draper, the center of Utah's "Silicon Slopes" technology corridor along I-15.
By the end of the year, the commission hopes to have identified surrounding areas that would also be part of an overall plan for developing the corridor that includes portions of Salt Lake and Utah counties.
"This is going to be an interesting process, because there are a lot of different objectives," the commission's co-chairman, House Majority Assistant Whip Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, said.
Lawmakers have already decided to move the aging prison to a location west of the Salt Lake City International Airport. A new 4,000-bed facility is set to be completed in 2020.
The fast-growing communities located along the corridor that's already home to a number of technology companies need to determine if they want to be part of the economic development effort, Wilson said.
The request for proposals expected to be issued by the state Thursday calls for holding town hall meetings and focus groups, as well as conducting surveys to gauge public interest.
The contract is scheduled to be awarded on Aug. 19. Other planning phases identified in the request for proposals includes identifying transportation and other infrastructure needs and then how to pay for the project.
"It's going to take more than a year and more than $500,000," to complete the plan, Wilson said. He said he believes, however, it could be in place by the end of next year.
The request for proposals, being sent out to consultants around the country, describes the Point of the Mountain site as "a strategic development that is pivotal to Utah's success."
The document states that development of the technology corridor — called "one of the hottest commercial markets in the country" — will provide "profound economic and social opportunities impacting multiple communities for future generations."
The decision to move the prison, driven by the economic development opportunities for the site as well as the need for a more modern facility, was made by the Legislature in an August 2015 special session.
Since then, studies of the chosen site that includes wetlands have been underway to determine exactly where to place the prison. Wilson, who also serves on the Legislature's Prison Development Commission, said a decision is close.
He said he expects the Prison Development Commission, which has not met since the first of the year, to be held in the next 30 days to go over some of the issues that have surfaced, including a mosquito problem.