Land Rush | Urban Living
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Land Rush

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Mark Twain's investment advice was, "Buy land, they're not making it anymore."

Around the Wasatch Front, finding raw land to build on is about as rare as a victory for common sense! I receive frequent calls from old and young hippies who want to "find a lot in the city so we can build a tiny house, have chickens and farm." Again, offers of buildable residentially zoned land in the tri-city area are scarce and generally swooped up by full-time investors and builders who can squeeze in high-density townhomes (where allowed).

Two big landholders in our area are The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and mining multinational Rio Tinto. As a former planning and zoning commissioner for Salt Lake City, I recall when Rio Tinto came to present their vision for the far west side of the Salt Lake Valley. They own the land from the smelter smokestack on the north end of the Oquirrh Mountains south beyond Daybreak. As the mine ore taps out, Rio Tinto plans to build communities. Most importantly, they own the water rights to support communities like Daybreak. One employee pointed out, "By the time we're done building, we'll need 90 schools to support the families that will live there."

Rio Tinto is not building the 900-acre Olympia project just west of Herriman, but their land abuts that project. Just south of Daybreak and Olympia is Camp Williams Army Base, a training site for active and reservist Utah National Guard as well as all sorts of covert and overt military specialists. The military, with cooperation of private and public landowners, is planning to put an open-space plan around certain parts of the 24,000-acre base, which is smart because again, vacant land is being bought up to build housing projects. If you drew a circle with Camp Williams in the center, the Sentinel Landscape project would have Lehi and Draper on the north, Herriman on the east, Eagle Mountain and Saratoga Springs on the west and Utah Lake to the south.

As a homeowner, you don't want errant bullets and shells ending up in your bedroom, so it's good to have a buffer zone such as this that will also help protect wildlife and our unique ecosystem.

If you flew northwest over the Oquirrh Range, you'd see a new Latter-day Saints temple being constructed. The church's real-estate arm (Suburban Land Reserve), which built the City Creek project, has announced that they will now build a massive housing project of homes to surround that edifice. Why not add green space, rec areas and walking paths and housing that looks good with the temple as a focus. As I've also told clients over the years: If the church announces they are going to build a temple, buy any land you can around it because the value is going to skyrocket. If not land, then buy a home. It's logical that a temple is going to add value to the neighborhood.

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