Development planners have begun drawing up a framework for a new urban center on the Utah State Prison site, and the potential impact to BYU students could be enormous.
The area, designated “The Point,” is going to be transformed from a prison block surrounded by a dreary landscape to a walkable, metropolitan “15-minute city” within the next several years. This urban hub is meant to be a city of the future — walkable and sustainable, with green infrastructure and diverse housing, work and recreation venues — which could potentially provide a whole slew of new opportunities to BYU students and graduates.
Development planner Doug Voigt said the site development could present opportunities for partnerships and collaboration. Voigt works for Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, the urban planning firm selected to create The Point’s master plan.
“In terms of economic and innovation partnerships, you see a lot of universities working with private industry to further research or advance manufacturing,” he said. “And that’s usually interdisciplinary, so it could be anything from the school of business to the school of engineering, finding ways to partner with companies that may co-locate at The Point.”
Diogo Myrrha, an entrepreneurship founder at BYU’s Marriott School of Business, also noted the potential for local internships for Utah’s college students. Myrrha participates in a working group for The Point to offer his perspective as a member of the tech community.
The Point, right next to Utah’s Silicon Slopes, could attract tech companies hoping to set up shop in the new metropolis. These companies could provide internships for current students and jobs for graduates.
“The other real advantage is it can create a place for graduates to move once leaving school,” Voigt said. “I mean, this provides a really exciting way to accommodate that future growth.”
Myrrha said incoming tech companies can also increase diversity in a relatively homogenous community. This in particular is a big plus for BYU students considering moving to the area, most of whom spent their college career surrounded by people from similar demographic groups. While the university struggles with a lack of diversity, BYU graduates relocating to The Point to live or work could be exposed to people living a wider variety of lifestyles.
“The idea here is to think differently so we can attract diverse talents, so we can attract diverse industries, so we can attract, ultimately, a diverse population to this wonderful Mecca that Utah is,” Myrrha said.