Move over, Salt Lake City—Utah City is on its way
Rendering courtesy of Utah City
Alittle over 20 years ago, Vineyard, Utah—with its population of 139—sat somewhat isolated on the shore of Utah Lake, flanked by the former Geneva Steel mill. Now, it’s a city of more than 23,000 people and is slated to become the seat of Utah County’s urban center.
According to Jeff Woodbury, SVP of development and acquisitions, Utah City will create an identifiable urban center for all the towns in Utah County. “No one knows where Lehi, Utah, is—but everyone will know where Utah City is,” he says. “What we’re creating is the downtown of Utah County.”
Woodbury anticipates Utah City to be a new cultural and economic core for the area, boasting to ultimately provide over 17 million square feet of combined mixed-use space including living, shopping, dining, entertainment and hospitality. The city will have 2 million square feet of commercial space and 1 million square feet of retail space on five acres of waterfront shoreline.
The project entails more than 60 acres of parks and paseos—or walkways—including a 12-acre promenade park running from Utah Lake to the newly opened Utah Transit Authority FrontRunner train station. Utah City will also be accessible off I-15 from the 1600 North, 800 North and Center Street exits.
A healthier future
The project will be anchored by a new Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI), the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in the Mountain West. The new HCI location in Utah City will be its second location, with the first located at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. HCI says the new location will bring 2,000 high-paying jobs to the area.
“Huntsman Cancer Institute’s vision is to deliver a cancer-free frontier, and we believe that begins right here in Utah,” says Mary Beckerle, PhD, CEO of HCI. “This expansion of Huntsman Cancer Institute will address the monumental population growth in Utah and reduce the travel burden many patients face every day. Located in one of the fastest growing counties in the country, it will provide easier access to comprehensive cancer care, accelerate cancer research, and train the next generation of cancer providers and scientists.”
Rendering courtesy of Utah City
"This is a place where we feel people will want to live, be entertained and really embrace the Utah lifestyle. When people think of Salt Lake City, it's really the whole Salt Lake Valley. We think that Utah City embraces the concept of all of Utah County and the Utah Lake Valley, just like the Salt Lake Valley. It's important to us to create that sense of place that represents every community within Utah."
According to Nate Hutchinson, co-managing partner at Flagship, the average age of the American population is about 38. In Utah, the average age is 31, and in Utah County, the average age is 25. “So there is a real push to help prevent some diseases sooner, and that’ll be a component of Utah City, as well,” Hutchinson says.
Flagship built its first home in Vineyard in 2012, at which time the city had about 150 residents, Hutchinson says. The builder began buying more parcels in Vineyard from 2018 to 2020 and partnered with Woodbury. Since then, Hutchinson and Jeff Woodbury have been traveling the world, looking for ideas on how to make Utah City truly unique.
“We have this very shared vision of creating or building a new model city for Utah,” Hutchinson says.
Designing Utah City
Jeff Woodbury believes “the time is right” for Utah County to have an urban core. The project will be kicked off with a 300-acre city development that is already entitled and approved. The location is ideal, just south of Silicon Slopes and just north of Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University. A 220-acre Utah Valley expansion campus is connected to Utah City.
The first phase includes a grocery store with some retail office space and 450 units of rental apartments for now, Hutchinson says. It also includes $25 million for phase one of the park.
Infrastructure construction began in 2022, with construction on the first residential units and promenade expected to begin in 2023, according to a Utah City spokesperson.
“This is a place where we feel people will want to live, be entertained and really embrace the Utah lifestyle,” Jeff Woodbury says. “When people think of Salt Lake City, it’s really the whole Salt Lake Valley. We think that Utah City embraces the concept of all of Utah County and the Utah Lake Valley, just like the Salt Lake Valley. It’s important to us to create that sense of place that represents every community within Utah.”
Flagship and Woodbury hired world-renowned city planners Jeff Speck and DPZ to design Utah City for walkability and sustainability. Density is a hot topic, Hutchinson says. “We’ve talked to a lot of land planners and walkability experts around the world,” he continues. “One of the things that we’ve learned along the way is that density, when done in a very well-thought-out, mixed-use environment, is actually one of the places in the world that people love to visit and live. It’s very attractive. Density becomes a problem when it’s done in isolation.”
Restaurants, grocery stores, churches, schools, parks and concert venues will all be within walking distance, Hutchinson says. “One of the things we’re most excited about is finally building a community in Utah County that is very well-thought-out from the beginning in this mixed-use environment.”
A people-first community
Jeff Woodbury says the key to Utah City is the people who will call it home.
“It’s not about buildings, though that’s what we do, but we’re trying to take a completely unique approach in this so that nothing looks the same as you would find anywhere else in Utah,” he says. “We’re trying to get on an airplane at least once a month and go to other communities that are building new things … and we work with our designers, architects, engineers and planners to help bring a lot of these ideas to the state of Utah.”
Jeff Woodbury admits that some communities are wary of increasing density, with traffic being the primary reason. “The unique thing about this piece of property is we planned this from the beginning,” he continues. “The impact on single-family residents and the impact on existing communities will be very, very small. We planned it so that we can accommodate the traffic from the very beginning.”
With views of Mount Timpanogos and Utah Lake, Jeff Woodbury believes the Utah City site “is a unique place to start from the beginning and be thoughtful about how we can maximize the beauty of the state of Utah and Utah County.”