New temples bring excitement, traffic, higher housing prices

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A rendering of the Saratoga Springs Temple. Realtors say house prices around the temple can rise 10-15% with the announcement of the temple. (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

When President Russell M. Nelson announced that a new temple would be built in the Tooele Valley area, Savannah Hogan, a BYU student from Tooele, and her family leaped from the couch and cheered with excitement.

“The prophet had just said please be quiet and don’t yell, and then he said Tooele and we all yelled,” Hogan said.

In addition to the upcoming temple in Tooele Valley, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has five other Utah temples in the process of being built in Orem, Taylorsville, Washington County, Layton and Saratoga Springs. These temple announcements are often met with members’ excitement, but the construction of a new temple impacts cities in several ways.

“A lot of my non-member friends that I went to high school with are not excited about the temple,” Hogan said, referring to the potential increase in both housing prices and traffic around the temple.

After the Church announced that the Tooele Valley temple would be located in Erda, a rural town located outside Tooele, residents expressed concerns about the temple’s location. The new temple will be built at the intersection of two main roads, Highway 36 and Erda Way.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced the Tooele Valley temple will be built in Erda, Utah. Residents have expressed concerns about this particular location because of the potential increase in traffic. (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

“(Highway 36) is already very busy and dangerous,” Erda resident Shawnya Wayman wrote in a Facebook message. “I don’t want to see more people coming to the area and further congesting up our already congested roads.”

Other residents recognized that the Church will need to prepare the area for increased traffic during the development process.

“I do have complete confidence in the Church engineers that they will be able to make traffic flow into and out of the temple,” another Erda resident Kristin Beckstead said in a Facebook message.

Erda residents will need to wait to see how the upcoming temple will affect the community because the Church has yet to announce further plans in the building process.

On the other hand, the Saratoga Spring Temple, which was announced in April 2017, is a little further in the process and has a groundbreaking date set for Oct. 19.

Like the Tooele Valley Temple, the area around the Saratoga Springs Temple is largely empty now but will eventually be filled with homes, parks and trails in a new housing development called Beacon Pointe.

Real estate agent Brett Henry said that many people want to build or buy houses near the temple, leading to an increase in property values and prices for homes in the area.

“In homes that back up to the temple or have a direct view of it, then you could see a 10-15% increase in value between when it’s announced to when the temple is actually built,” Henry said.

In response to concerns about increased traffic and development in the area, David Johnson, Saratoga Springs’ public relations and economic development director, said the Church is working closely with the city to go through the standard building processes.

“As with any development, the city works with those property owners and developers to ensure that the proper infrastructure is going to be in place to support any increased traffic or use of utility,” he said.

According to Johnson, much of the public response to the temple has been positive, unlike the mixed response in Erda.

“A religious building, such as an LDS temple, in any community is going to provide a beautiful asset to that community,” Johnson said.

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