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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Daybreak Village Center

The plans for Daybreak seem to have been in a constant state of flux. Village centers that once appeared on old maps cannot be seen on the new maps. The timing for the village center has also changed. "We would like to have a retail village center built and occupied by the summer of 2005." indicated one executive in an interview when Daybreak was just getting started. If he only knew what the Boyer company had in mind for South Jordan. The change in timing was most likely in response to The District development. New businesses in Daybreak would not be able to compete in the shadow of this retail giant. The timetable was pushed even further back as of late. The good news is that the first phase of the Village Center will arrive this summer. This phase includes the Kennecott Corporate Center. The first part of the 45-acre village center that will include 100,000 square feet of retail and restaurants, an additional 60,000 square feet of office space and between 475 and 525 high-density multi-family residential housing units. The second phase, which will arrive anywhere between the fall of this year to the summer of 2009, will consist of the anchor grocery store and assortment of shops that address everyday necessities. You can see the general layout in the picture below: Finally, the third phase will be the afore mentioned high-density residential buildings and more commercial. This residential area will probably be the most controversial part of Daybreak because of its density. However, it is this density that will enable Daybreak to become the new urban town that Kennecott has envisioned. As I said before the execution of the details in this new addition to Daybreak will be critical. Kennecott has to solve a major dilemma. They need to make the transition from a relatively low density neighborhood to a high density village center utterly seamless. Kennecott had better put all the necessary talent and thought needed into this venture or they might endanger the vision that they have worked so hard to create. This area is being closely watched by many citizens especially those who live on Topcrest. Citizens will always refer back to this part of Daybreak if this is handled improperly. Possibly saying, "Oh no, not another Topcrest."

Kennecott Land indicated, "On the commercial side, there will be seven individual buildings as a start, there will be more than that ultimately" The character of the buildings is different than what I had imagined. It doesn't seem to fit with the rest of the architecture in daybreak with the exception of the visitor's center. After looking at the Emmigration Market in the Harvard/Yale area (the area that Daybreak is modeled after) I found some similarities in the design. However, if you look at the traditional main streets in the towns of Utah you will find two to three story buildings made of brick. While I'm sure that costs and efficiency are factors in the design decisions I do not think that the illustrations distributed so far resemble anything traditional in Utah.

One building that is definitely not traditional is the Kennecott Corporate Building. It is impressive as a class A office building with LEED Certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), but I feel that it is out of scale with its surroundings. The building would be better suited in the town center. (Of course I may feel differently once the village center is built out) I do have to give credit to the contractors who designed the building. The systems in the building, solar panels, parking, all seem to be designed well. As Kennecott brags, "they are truly state of the art."

"The village center has a very high emphasis on architecture, interesting buildings, interesting locations. It's not about creating the most efficient, cost effective box. We set out to create a place and the architecture was driven by that goal. The office was intended to complement the surrounding area as opposed to changing it."

I agree and disagree with this statement. As I said before I do not think that some of the designs indicated in the renderings fit into the current community. However, there have been many new urbanist communities that through traditionalism have become what they fear the most: homogeneous. Several communities in Canada come to mind. Sure all of the homes as individual units are impressive, but if you put them all together you are inundated with the homogeneous architecture. Variety is needed, but this could be the equivalent of a jazzy saxophone soloist in the middle of the Utah Symphony.

Another aspect of the town center that concerns me are the town/row homes that will be built next to the roundabout as you enter Daybreak. These will be the first up-close buildings that many people will see when they enter Daybreak. From what I can see right now, these buildings look to be urban contemporary similar to the new Garbett row homes in North Shore Village. Is this the first thing you want people to see upon entering our neighborhood? No, not really. Even though it seems to be part of the Village Center it is technically on the edge of Daybreak where everything else is classical architecture from early last century. Modern will simply not present a cohesive design, even if it is "Daybreak-ish." In my opinion variety is good, but this part needs to have the flavor of Founders and Eastlake combined.

One part of the plan that I am truly looking forward to is the urban park that is mentioned here:

“Within the Main Street plan, we are designing an urban park that provides elements such as seating, pop jet fountains, an outdoor fire pit, sun shades and music,” says Kaufman. “Above all, the Village Center is positioned between great neighborhood parks, Oquirrh Lake and a variety of area trails.
Additionally, all of the greenery on top of the buildings is welcome in my book. It is rare that you see that level of detail for buildings in Utah. From what I understand, this greenery will not only make the buildings look better, but will also reduce the heat island effect caused by large buildings and concrete. It might even help conserve energy and thus reduce utility bills.

Daybreak's village center will make or break the community in my opinion. The sheer expense, the entire village center will cost $150 million, along with the fact that it will be in immediate competition with The District from the start make this Village Center a "must win" endeavor for Kennecott. The plans and time tables for Daybreak are always changing. Plans are never perfect and a little adaptability is crucial, but these changes will create the heart of Daybreak and therefore must be free of major defects.


Anonymous said...

I really enjoy reading your blog. I agree wholeheartedly about the need for Kennecott to execute flawlessly when it comes to the new high-density development around the Village Center. I live on Topcrest, and I'm very nervous about how things will turn out. I attended the Planning Committee meeting a few months ago to find out more details about the apartments. The rep from Kennecott promised that there would be a meeting very soon to discuss more details with the community. Thus far, nothing has happened, although there is a lot of dirt being moved behind my house. I'm trying to keep an open mind, but it's hard to put too much faith in Kennecott when so many other things have gone so poorly.

Anonymous said...

Your blog is a great source of information on Daybreak. I am thinking of moving there and your site is invaluable to my decision. I see that your stories are also on the Daybreak Daily website. Keep up the good work!

John said...

For that very reason, we will be renting in Daybreak (later this year) before we buy. We love the neighborhoods, the designs, the lake, everything; but need to live there first to figure out which is the best place to buy or even live in daybreak. We currently live in a master-planned community in CA and understand the value of living somewhere first before you buy. For example, if Kennecot pulled a fast one and wanted to put up low income housing (maybe it's already planned with the apartments) or a katrina refugee encampment (you get the idea), we are pulling up stakes and buying elsewhere. More often than not, city planners don't understand demographics and why crime is low in certain areas and high in others. If you build something that attracts scummy people, scummy people will enhabit your neighborhood. Does that sound crazy? To me and my family, it's a real concern.

Anonymous said...

We also need to remember that Kennecott has a vested interest in making this work given the fact that they still have lots of land to develop (like over 40,000 acres). That's really what makes Daybreak and Kennecott Land unique in the development world is that they have all this contiguous land in one place, and if they don't do it right and live up to their promises, they will have a hard time getting approval from municipalities on future development. So I'm not terribly concerned about it. I think they will figure it out because it benefits them down the road if they do it right on this first go at it.

Anonymous said...

do you know if there are any plans for something like Artspace in downtown Salt Lake? It has done wonders for downtown. And I think any community that will accommodate the arts will become that much more desirable. Perhaps a post topic in itself?

Anonymous said...

John. Not that I cant see where your comming from, but not all people who live in apartments are scummy. Thanks though. I am planning on moving out of my house soon to start a life of my own and an apartment in Daybreak would be ideal for me. Just because people have a lower income does not mean they are "scummy" as you call it. Yeah you do get the dirt bags, but you get those anywhere you live.

Anonymous said...

These apartments will be in the higher rent end of things. I dont see "scummy" people moving in. Rent would be over $800-1000 a month I am "guessing". I think it will attrack some college students who want to ride TRAX to school. Single people who want the daybreak lifestyle with out the maintenance of a house. We lived in an apartment when we were first married, and we arent scummy. If the daybreak commons becomes a low income housing complex.... they can set the income requirements higher than what you would find "down town" or in West valley City, low income apartments. Diversity is great, and I think the apartments will be just fine. As long as the renters have to pay the same HOA fees we do, I dont see a problem. We have Carriage homes here that somewhat look like apartments from the road.... not everyone can afford a $600,000 home over in north shore. Not everyone can afford a already built, lived in home in east lake or Founders. Does it make them bad scummy people if they have to rent before they buy??
Daybreak resident