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Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Daybreak Utah Winter

As the days become shorter and the nights longer, a cold has crept over Utah making the air crisp and clear. On Christmas morning I woke up to find the landscape blanketed with the snow that has made Utah a winter travel destination. Many call it "the greatest snow on earth." They love how the dry Utah environment produces a dry powdery snow that is highly desired by ski and snowboarding enthusiasts. Others feel that it can be the greatest back breaking work on earth as they struggle to keep their sidewalks and driveways clear of the seasonal onslaught.

Personally, I have always enjoyed the winter as a welcome change that brings new activities along with the snow. My favorite of these is snowboarding. Utah is home to 13 world-class ski resorts and is a paradise to those who love the slopes. Most of these resorts are within a short driving distance of the Salt Lake Valley and provide a great day trip for family recreation.

When one cannot get up to the ski slopes there are plenty of opportunities for fun right here in the community. Especially for those who are young or at least young at heart. Every time I pass Central Park, the new Eastlake Park, or the hill sloping down from Pale Moon Lane I see a multitude of kids sledding down in a variety of contraptions. They have even been making mounds of snow off of which they enjoy a brief moment of being airborne.

I often see the kids engaged in an epic snowball fight or building "Snowzilla" in the front yard. The kids on Lake Run Rd and Copper Sky Drive have built excellent snow forts.

Near Oquirrh Lake I found cross country skiers and residents walking around in snow shoes. Did you know that you can burn 544 calories an hour by walking the Daybreak trails in snow shoes? That could definitely help with a new year's resolution. If you are the extreme type I found the blog of a Daybreak Resident who is into extreme biking. Apparently he has a snow bike and has been testing it out on the "skateable art" in Eastlake. So to those who hate the snow and the cold that come every winter: get some warm clothes on and remove yourself from your house for awhile. You will find that taking advantage of the greatest snow on earth will boost your spirits and shrink your waistline.

Monday, December 15, 2008

eBay Building Computer Center in Daybreak

eBay Inc. and the Utah Governor's Office of Economic Development (GOED) announced today that a “next-generation” data center will be developed in the Daybreak Commerce Park. This data center will support the many websites that Ebay Inc. currently runs including, PayPal, Skype and among others. This new facility is expected to generate approximately 50 jobs that will be compensated at an average of 150 percent of the Utah median wage.

eBay Inc. chose Daybreak because of the infrastructure (fiber-optic network, low cost of power). The GOED office also cited the highly qualified workforce that has developed in Utah as the result of many high-tech firms locating operations here.

The eBay facility is actually the second large computer operation to locate in the Daybreak Commerce Park, which sits on the northwest corner of Daybreak development. Oracle, a well-known business software developer, broke ground on its global information technology center in October.

The facility is expected to cost 334 million dollars to build. As with every building in Daybreak, the facility will feature new green technology. Considering the building will house literally thousands of power-sucking computers this will be important from a cost standpoint in addition to being a “environmentally friendly” company as well. These new green features will include a “water side economizer that uses outside air to cool water versus motorized chillers and variable speed drives to run fans and chillers on an on-demand basis. Additionally, rainwater will be used to supply the cooling tower and for landscape irrigation.” I take this as extremely good news as many companies have been cutting jobs to sustain their operations. A prime example of this is Kraftmaid Cabinetry who cut hundreds of jobs in the adjacent community of West Jordan.

Friday, December 12, 2008

New Pool in Founders Village - 2010

Early in the development of Daybreak, Kennecott Land had plans to create a beach club that would be situated just outside Founders Village along the shore of Oquirrh Lake. This deal fell through for a number of reasons and residents of Founders Village felt like a promise had been broken. When Kennecott Land announced that a new pool was to be constructed in Eastlake Village, many residents were pleased with the new amenity, but still wanted something similar to be located in Founders Village.

After months of relaying this concern to the HOA and KL, a meeting between a group of homeowners and Kennecott Land has resulted in a plan to build a pool similar to the Eastlake Village pool in Founders Village. The pool will be located next to the Daybreak Community Center (DCC) and has several financial advantages.

The first advantage is that the pool will not need to be designed again as the plans are already in existence. Using these plans saves homeowners an estimated $150,000 dollars. By locating it next to the DCC, there is a possibility of restructuring the showering facilities there to be of use by the patrons of the pool. Local Health Department approval will be needed in this case, but if executed correctly this proposal could save up to $300,000. A final cost advantage is that a variety of firms will be bidding on the project. While this may not seem like a change from other projects, many residents have noted local companies that could construct the pool at a much lower cost than what the Eastlake Pool commanded.

The economic conditions in the construction industry may also be to our advantage as they have become slightly more competitive in recent months. While the swimming pool was discussed at length, the most important product of this meeting was a proposal to transition ownership of the DCC to Daybreak homeowners. Currently Daybreak homeowners are in a 20 year lease agreement for use the DCC with Kennecott Land. The current lease rate is about $270,000 per year. However, under the current agreement this lease will increase to $335,000 per year in 2010. This essentially adjustable rate lease would leave Daybreak Homeowners without ownership of the DCC in the end. The proposed plan is that the homeowners finance the DCC through essentially a mortgage. Attendees of the meeting went over the numbers with the Chief Financial Officer of Kennecott Land and this deal could save homeowners an estimated 6.7 million over 20 years and we will have ownership of the DCC with a pool in Founder’s Village.

Here is a timeline for upcoming events related to this proposal:

  • Dec 16th Daybreak BOD meeting
  • Jan – HOA will process reserve fund analysis
  • Feb – Pool Committee meeting with KL to go over layout and specifics
  • Feb – Notices sent to residents of BOD meeting to decide on the proposal
  • Mar – BOD Meeting - Residents voice concerns – measure voted on by BOD May (2010) – Founders Village Pool opens on Memorial Day weekend

This proposal could benefit all residents of Daybreak, but especially those in Founders Village. The deal will probably be to the benefit of Kennecott Land as they will be able to free up capital. Specific financial information (terms of the loan, comparative analysis, etc) will hopefully be forthcoming so that homeowners can make an informed financial decision for the future of Daybreak.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Daybreak on YouTube

Youtube has been one of those technologies that has taken the internet by storm. The idea for Youtube started in 2005 and by July 2006 the company announced that 65,000 new videos were being uploaded daily. It is now the third most popular website on the internet behind google and yahoo and has had a total of 5 billion videos viewed as of July 2008. In 2007 Youtube consumed as much bandwitdth as the intire internet in the year 2000. With all of these videos uploaded to this site, it did not suprise me to find videos that featured areas of Daybreak.

Of course, many of these videos are not by residents. In fact, most of them seem to have been made by Liberty Homes or other real estate agents. These videos take you on tours of the interiors of homes that are on the market. Not a bad idea considering you can now take a tour of a home without having to leave yours.

Other videos that come up if you input "Daybreak Utah" in the search field include a tour of Daybreak by a couple that drove around during the North Shore exibition. Another features a family fishing at Oquirrh lake. The video was posted by metallica mom if that tells you anything. The final video that I found features teenagers skating the "skatable art" in the new Eastlake park. The skater carries the camera with him as he goes over the humps of the "monster."

Who knows, maybe we will see more videos posted in the future as more people start carrying video cameras everywhere. If you have a video that you would like to mention, just leave the link in the comments section of this post.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

TRAX in Daybreak - Real Estate Boost?

As we experience a declining housing market in the U.S., it is important to consider the geography of areas both losing and gaining property value. In Utah we are currently seeing some neighborhoods decline as they are primarily constituted of homes in the higher price ranges. Beyond this trend, there is another subtle trend that I have noticed taking place across the country. Homes within a walkable distance to light-rail stations are fairing better in this down market and some are even gaining value.

The Washington post reported on this trend, showing the percent change in the median home price of individual zip codes of Washington D.C. and its surrounding counties. The paper found that areas without direct access to metro stations - ones that were typically suburban in nature - experienced greater losses in median home value.

In Denver, where they have pushed light-rail construction heavily, the Denver Post reported that values have increased for homes near light-rail stations:

Margarete Humphrey knows her bungalow near the Louisiana Station light-rail stop is in a hot neighborhood. But she was surprised to learn the value of her home has increased over the past two years as much of the metro Denver housing market has declined. Homes near light-rail stations along the southeast line, which opened in November 2006, have increased by an average of nearly 4 percent over the past two years, according to an analysis by Your Castle Real Estate. But the rest of the Denver market declined an average of 7.5 percent.
While most of the studies indicate that transit increases property values, there are a few that have found that it decreases property values. In looking at these studies these negative impacts occur because of the negative side effects that are realized by those properties located right next to rail facilities. The noise, aesthetics, and traffic were cited as the primary culprits. In these studies homes that were in extreme close proximity lost value, but homes further away (but still within walking distance) gained value. However, most of these negative impacts can be mitigated by proper planning. The Daybreak plan looks to mitigate these factors as the TRAX line follows commercial, industrial, and retail properties in its penetration of the community. So these "nuisance effects" are absorbed by these non-residential areas that actually benefit from the traffic of cars and people. Further benefit is realized as these non-residential properties will be using the TRAX parking to their benefit.

So how does transit increase property values? Because it increases access to area destinations for residents in close proximity to transit stations. It is for this very reason that TRAX may be able to add maximum value to the Daybreak community. Daybreak essentially lies on the fringe of development in Southwest Salt Lake County. To get to most destinations, residents must travel either East or North to arrive there. Right now there are limited options to do this and accessibility is definitely a problem. TRAX offers a direct route to Salt Lake City, the University of Utah, various sports complexes, shopping centers, commuter rail, etc. While gas prices have recently gone down drastically, I do not expect them to stay there. The more gas prices increase the more people will see TRAX as their best transportation option. This will only increase property values more.

Overall, transit adds value to communities like Daybreak regardless of the economic climate. Neighborhoods and communities with strong connectivity will thrive in the long-term. Transit has the ability to increase (or at least sustain) value because it provides more people with access to essential destinations in a given area; it also improves one's quality of life in congested metropolitan areas such as the Wasatch Front.