Record editorial: Tech Center project must benefit entire community to earn approval
The land below the Utah Olympic Park at the southwest corner of Kimball Junction has for 15 years been planned to become an office park, a so-called Tech Center filled with high-paying jobs in office buildings surrounded by parking lots.
But the vision of a bustling tech park has not come to fruition, and the landowners now want to change the development agreement and turn the land into a mixed-use development on the scale of an entire new neighborhood.
While the Summit County Council, it seems, is inching toward a possible approval of that plan, the drivers inching by the site in stalled traffic on S.R. 224 might be inclined to ask why adding 1,100 homes, a hotel and businesses to the area would do anything to improve it.
Unless the County Council takes proper steps in negotiating an agreement with the developers, Dakota Pacific Real Estate, the commuters testing their air conditioners on S.R. 224 might be right.
Some councilors have indicated the development presents an opportunity to chase some of Summit County’s goals for Kimball Junction, like increasing neighborhood connectivity and improving the woeful traffic situation.
If councilors are to approve it, any eventual agreement must include certain aspects to give the development a chance to benefit the area.
It should be the developer’s responsibility to make sure the 3,500 new residents and their cars don’t overload a road system that’s already breaking. That likely means moving roads, widening them or changing turn configurations, and none of that should be on the county’s dime.
Dakota Pacific should also throw their apparently considerable political clout — and some money — behind the ambitious Utah Department of Transportation plan supported by local elected officials to bury S.R. 224 underground as it approaches Kimball Junction as a means to alleviate the ever-worsening traffic congestion.
Such a plan, which UDOT officials estimated to cost more than $100 million, makes possible a significant overhaul of the area.
That overhaul could include using the space above the buried highway for a new park that connects the east and west sides of Kimball Junction. It could include a below-grade bus rapid transit hub to anchor the proposed system and provide 1,500 parking stalls to capture traffic from S.R. 224.
Altogether, that vision probably has a quarter-billion dollar price tag, officials have said, and Dakota Pacific doesn’t bear the sole responsibility to bring that about.
But the firm could be a meaningful partner, along with Summit County, Park City and UDOT, in realizing a future for the area that many Parkites might welcome.
That partnership could include contributions to pay for future improvements to the area using a voluntary assessment on landowners, similar to the deal officials struck for the Canyons Village base area.
It could also mean the developers ponying up cash or even building the bus rapid transit infrastructure that officials envision at or near the site.
If Summit County’s elected officials are going to support a new residential neighborhood at Kimball Junction, they should make sure it benefits everyone, and that starts at the negotiating table.
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