Developer Says Dakota Is Right For Kimball Junction

23 hours ago

Credit KPCW

The Summit County Council started off 2021 with, perhaps, one of the most important public hearings they will host this year.

Before that, an applicant for Dakota Pacific, a proposed residential/commercial/office center at Kimball Junction, told us that the plan is in the right place at the right time.   

On Wednesday, we talked to Jeff Gochnour, Development Director for Dakota Pacific.

His company’s project will change the approval given for the Boyer Tech Park, in favor of  a new plan with 1.3 million square feet, not including workforce housing.

It includes 1100 residential units, 160,000 square feet in two office buildings, and a 130-room hotel.

Gochnour said that 30 percent of the residential is affordable or attainable housing, and is mostly for rental.

The company has also recently applied for a Use designation, under the current Tech Park approval, for a medical-office facility.  Gochnour said they were approached by the potential user, and they think it would be a great place for the building.       

“It’s at the base of the Utah Olympic Park, where people could seek some medical support immediately if there was an issue there.  It would just take the place of one of our office buildings, but it would be basically, medical office, so you’d have a lot of medical providers there in the area.   It’s just a different type use than the traditional business office.  (Leslie) Okay, so you’re just asking for approval of that so you can get started on it.  And it would be in the same location as one of those office buildings under the Master Plan there?  (Gochnour) Yes, yes.”

He said they listened to the critics at last summer’s public hearings, and made adjustments to their plan.    One complaint was that the development was only designed for those who would live or work in the project.      

“And so we took a hard look at how we were designing some of our open space, and what our plazas should look like.  I think we have created now a project that’s much more inviting to the broader community than just those that will reside or work within our project.  And that includes a plaza that we’ve got planned right in the area of Landmark and Tech Center Drive that will be available for weekend Farmers’ Market, food-truck roundups, summer-night concerts or movies, perhaps a winter festival.”

Gochnour said they have also provided pocket parks, a community garden, a children’s park and a dog park.

He said they are providing 306 workforce units.   Out of those, 256 would accommodate 30 to 80 percent Area Median Income.

Gochnour said he believes the housing will accommodate a broad range of affordability.      

“We’re targeting, on the low end, 30 percent of the Area Median Income, all the way up to 80.   And then the attainable, which would go up to 120 percent of AMI.  The attainable is for the people that maybe make a little too much money, and don’t qualify for those lower AMIs.  But one of the benefits of attainable is that it’s deed-restricted.   So even though they’re effectively almost paying market rents, there’s a limit on how quickly, and by the amount those rents can increase each year.”

One other concern is that Dakota’s affordable units will just fill up with the employees that it generates—so-called “cannibalizing.”  

But Gochnour noted the example of employees at the current Skull Candy facility, who live in Salt Lake but want to live up here.    If they occupied this housing, that saves on traffic up Parley’s Canyon and it means local employees will live here and spend here.

About transportation impacts, he said he believes the project will be a catalyst for UDOT to undertake improvements in the Kimball Junction area.

Last summer, critics also said that Dakota’s plan was urban development in a rural resort area.

But Gochnour said the project is in the right place at the right time for the growth that is coming.     

“And what better place to have growth, and density in particular, than right adjacent to a Transit Center.  So if you don’t take advantage of this opportunity to put density on a Transit Center, then you make the assumption that that density is going to go somewhere.   And so if somebody finds a 10-acre piece of land, and they start developing something there, most likely that that won’t be near, it be tailors and other businesses that are in the area of our project, so they’ll be hopping in their cars and driving to these places.”

Jeff Gochnour from Dakota Pacific.

He said if the County Council approves the project, they want to start immediately and are working now on infrastructure.   But it’s not likely that a building will be under construction until 2022.