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Final demolition of old Utah State Prison underway

With more than 90% of the demolition complete — and the rest scheduled to be finished in October — crews toppled one of the last remaining guard towers Wednesday

SHARE Final demolition of old Utah State Prison underway
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Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Crews began tearing down the old Utah State Prison last November by knocking down a decades-old guard tower to clear land for what will become a mixed-use development near the Point of the Mountain.

Less than a year later, the site has been mostly reduced to scattered piles of rubble, mulch and concrete, with a perimeter fence, chapel and handful of cell units the only remnants of the facility in use since 1951.

With more than 90% of the demolition complete — and the rest scheduled to be finished in October — crews toppled one of the last remaining guard towers on site on Wednesday morning and officials praised the progress that has been made toward The Point development.

The process of relocating the prison to its new location in Salt Lake City has been years in the making, and Draper Mayor Troy Walker thanked the various state leaders who have helped shepherd the project along, and who had the foresight to pair it with an economic development at the old site.

The new development represents “pure opportunity,” he said, that will provide places to live, work, play and learn all in one place.

“I’m excited that the future is going to involve a place for people to get here where they won't have to drive a car and a place where they can live that they may not even need a car,” he said. “I’m excited for the future. I think this prison site is nothing but a representation of opportunity.”

Alan Matheson, executive director of the Point of the Mountain State Land Authority, and Caleb Townes, senior project manager, touted the sustainability efforts included in the demolition project.

Due to the size of the site, crews have created a temporary concrete recycling operation, saving money on materials and cutting the emissions associated with transporting concrete off-site to be recycled.

“We are going to be using this concrete for the foundation of similar buildings, so in a very literal sense and figurative sense, we're transforming this old prison site from a place of restraint to a place of innovation of opportunity,” Matheson said.

More than 70% of the material from the demolition has been recycled, Townes said. That includes enough steel for the foundation of 1,040 homes, enough steel for 66 four-story office buildings, enough asphalt for 5 miles of road and the equivalent weight of nearly 23,000 iron beams.

The Chapel by the Wayside will remain at the former Utah State Prison site in Draper on Wednesday.

The Chapel by the Wayside will remain at the former Utah State Prison site in Draper on Wednesday.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

While the future development will create living and working space for thousands of Utahns, The Point will benefit the state as a whole with estimated billions of dollars in additional revenue and investment, said Rep. Jordan Teuscher, R-South Jordan. Teuscher — a co-chairman of the land authority — said they are preserving the Chapel by the Wayside, which was built by inmates in the early 1960s.

“That place was considered by inmates as one of the most positive aspects of their experience and a place where they could find solace and peace,” he said. “With that chapel preservation, we feel we've struck the right balance between carefully preserving a meaningful part of Utah's history and moving forward to make this one of Utah's most exciting places to work and to live and to experience.”

Matheson said infrastructure planning is already underway, and work on key infrastructure such as water, power and sewage will begin in the spring. Construction on the first phase of development at The Point — which will include a mix of retail, entertainment, dining and recreation options — will begin soon after, with buildings going up as early as 2025, he said.