When I first heard that Kennecott Utah Copper was going to build a master-planned mixed-use community at the base of the world's largest open-pit copper mine, I was skeptical.
The developers envisioned apartments, condos, bungalows and cottages that would never be more than a five-minute walk to a park or amenity. Bells and whistles for residents would include lakes with free kayaks, paddleboards and sail boats as well as pools, 22 miles of dedicated bike and walking trails, pocket parks, fishing, splash pads and more. I thought it was cheeky of them to promote homes with the classic designs of those in the Harvard/Yale area of Salt Lake City. Pishaw, no way.
Yet, at 16 years and 8,000 homes later, Daybreak is a smashing success. According to MLS stats, in 2019, one in every six homes sold in the Salt Lake Valley was at Daybreak, and that figure could double by the end of 2020. With 13 "villages" now built on the 4,000 acres on the far west side of the valley, a new phase is being erected along a man-made watercourse. Only certain homebuilders can design/construct Daybreak homes to ensure a consistent look and feel, with some critics claiming it's straight out of the film The Stepford Wives.
Regardless of whether you're a fan of new construction or prefer a historic home near downtown Salt Lake, the idea of a planned community has overtaken Utah. Vineyard, in Utah County—the fastest growing city in the United States—is six square miles of a similar breakdown of rentals and primary residences with similar kinds of amenities. St. George has been aggressively planning communities for a few decades, many for 55+ senior lifestyles alongside golf courses.
And what may blow you away in Daybreak is the peppering of Pride flags and BLM posters. There are 661 members of the Facebook "Daybreak Gaybreak" group. My friends with tweens and teens are flocking to get in line for a building lot or praying for a resale home because there's so much to do at Daybreak, and frankly, residents feel safe there. There's aren't homeless camps in community parks spilling out onto sidewalks like those seen along the Jordan River Parkway and no graffiti on buildings.
The future is here, and all eyes are on the 700 acres where the Utah State Prison is currently located. Everyone has opinions as to what should be built there when the prison relocates in 2022—from a giant park to a cutting-edge tech-serving community with a mix of homes for sale or rent, commercial offices and stores, restaurants and bars, and amenities focusing on fun and exercise—much like those found at Daybreak, Vineyard and St. George.