Why Utah’s “Point of the Mountain” continues to be a center of gravity
Shock and awe—two words that best describe emotions exhibited by executives visiting Utah while driving the 20-mile stretch on I-15 from Sandy to Pleasant Grove. Why the strong emotions? The numerous construction cranes reaching skyward coupled with structural steel climbing as high as 11 stories powerfully demonstrate the stunning economic development and growth of this unique area.
The “Point of the Mountain” is colloquially used to refer to the area where the Salt Lake County and Utah County metropolitan areas converge, referencing the mountain pass used by the highways and rail arteries that connect the two most populous areas in the state.
In the commercial real estate business, we have had a unique front row seat—orchestrating and witnessing the bold moves of the companies and developers that have created this area which has become the heart of Silicon Slopes.
Most companies that have gravitated toward this area have been driven by factors including the ability to effectively recruit and retain talent from both counties and locations providing new, innovative office product and build-to-suit potential. Decision making has transcended merely being in Lehi or Draper—it is about being at the center of the Wasatch Front.
I vividly remember conducting site tours with executives from Xactware and Ancestry.com, with both of those companies having outgrown their campus locations in Orem and Provo, respectively. While driving various sites, Jim Loveland (then CEO of Xactware), saw the potential to strengthen recruitment and take advantage of unobstructed panoramic views offering both mountain and lake backdrops. Ancestry.com observed the same advantages, with the opportunity to create a world-class campus setting that would enable it to stage its dynamic growth and provide onsite amenities for its employees.
This hasn’t happened overnight. It required years of planning between the initial site tours to final occupancy/completion of these world-class buildings. The process of commercial real estate development is not for the impatient or the faint of heart. The vision of those companies, coupled with the resources and efforts of a dynamic development team, launched one of the most impressive and expansive office campus locations in the Intermountain West. It is rewarding to reflect on the fact that just a few short years ago, Traverse Mountain was just a large vacant expanse of undeveloped property. Today, it is teeming with activity with new buildings breaking ground and restaurants and services opening regularly.
The same phenomenon has been witnessed in Draper on the other side of the Point of the Mountain at Vista Station. Vista Station is home to the FrontRunner commuter rail station, which serves as the mass transit hub for the south end of Salt Lake Valley nearest to the Point of the Mountain. I remember the primary rationale underpinning eBay establishing its $287 million campus and Tier IV data center was the Transit Oriented Development (TOD) location coupled with proximity to the neighboring Utah County workforce. Many companies have followed at a rapid pace, with the most recent entrant being Dell EMC’s new campus on 12 acres located next door within the project, also due to the TOD aspect.
The Pillars of the Point of the Mountain:
IM Flash (over 3 million square feet on over 300 acres)
Adobe (38-acre campus, currently hiring 1,200 additional employees)
eBay (nearly $300 million campus and Tier IV data center)
NSA Data Center (1 million square foot facility on 240 acres)
New Headquarters under Construction:
Podium – new 5-story building under construction
Young Living Essential Oils – 263,000-square-foot global headquarters on 27 acres
Nature’s Sunshine/Synergy WorldWide – new 5-story building under construction
Sorenson Media – part of new 150,000-square-foot building under construction
Dell EMC – new 12-acre campus in Draper at Vista Station
Entrata – new headquarters above Adobe on Traverse Mountain
SolutionReach – new headquarters at Thanksgiving Point
NUVI – new headquarters at Vista Station
Fun Facts at The Point:
In 20 years, Lehi’s population has grown from 12,583 to 64,000—and is the 11th fastest-growing city in the United States.
The tallest building in the Point of the Mountain submarket is currently under construction: the new 11-story, 327,000-square-foot Mountain America Credit Union Tower in Sandy next to Hale Center Theatre.
The Point of the Mountain is home to world-famous hang gliding.
Over 700 acres will soon be available for development due to the Utah State Prison relocating.