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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Looking at Daybreak, Utah In a New Way

At about this time last year I wrote a post about the Streetview technology that Google integrated into their popular maps interface. Another useful web application that has been developed by Microsoft allows the user a "bird's eye" view of any area in the Salt Lake Valley, including Daybreak. This has been integrated into their maps application so to access it you just need to go to Once you are in the maps section you need to zoom in on the area that you want to look at with bird's eye. Once you are zoomed in close enough the bird's eye option will be available in the navigation bar in the top left of your map screen.
You can zoom in fairly close too.

One of the best features of this web application is that you can view the same spot from four different angles: North, South, East and West.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Building in Daybreak with Brick

Daybreak, as Kennecott Land has eagerly advertised, is a sustainable community and therefore uses sustainable materials in the construction of homes and other buildings. Of course, not all the materials are sustainable, but sustainable materials are definitely emphasized in construction. With this in mind I have looked at the materials used to build many of the homes in Daybreak. These consist primarily of fiber cement siding and stucco. There are very few homes that have been built with what I consider to be one of the best building materials: brick.

I should make it clear that I am not a materials engineer, home builder or sustainability expert. However, I do think that there are simple reasons for using this material more in the construction of Daybreak homes and commercial buildings. Brick may not be the first thing you think of when considering sustainable building as it is primarily thought of as a traditional building material, but lets look a little deeper. What is brick made from? Most bricks are made from clay and water. Both are a sustainable, non-toxic, abundant and can definitely be made locally.

Next, how much energy does it take to make a brick and transport it to a building site? This is one of the primary arguments against the use of brick. It does take a lot of energy as brick must be heated to an extraordinary temperature during the manufacturing process. However, I think that this is offset by how long brick lasts. Bricks resist the elements far longer than stucco or any type of siding. During the life of a home, stucco and siding will be painted and eventually replaced multiple times. Brick, however can last a hundred years or more if used and constructed properly. As for transportation costs, bricks have been made in the Salt Lake Valley for ages. Transportation from the actual production site to Daybreak would literally be only a few miles. In fact, if I am not mistaken, Interstate Brick company is located in West Jordan .

Benefits of brick according to the AIA (American Institute of Architects):

  • Durability: Brick is resistant to damage from wind and water, and does not need additional finishes.
  • Compressive Strength: Brick can carry heavy loads, but it is often used as a veneer over a separate structural system because of cost. Many brick manufacturers provide larger brick sizes to be used in a single wythe (layer) for load bearing.
  • Acoustical Performance: Brick’s mass makes it good for reducing sound transmission; however, its hard surface reflects sound.
  • Chemical Makeup: Brick’s raw materials are chemically inert; consequently, they will not contribute to indoor air pollution.
  • Fire-Protection: Brick is nonflammable and makes an excellent fire barrier. After brick has been used in a structure it can easily be recycled to be used in new structures.

Considering this, I think that a long-term perspective should be taken on sustainable building in Daybreak. New technologies in sustainable building products are impressive, but considering the information above, the primitive brick may be a low technology solution to sustainable design. You may even argue that brick costs more and you would be correct. However, brick homes tend to appraise for more money and again if you are looking at the long-term, you will not have to replace the outside of your home when the mortgage has finally been paid.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Tax Credit Final Amount: $8000

The stimulus bill has now been passed, but the $15000 tax credit did not survive the cuts made to the original bill. However, the new tax credit is still a drastic improvement upon the old $7500 credit.

$8000 tax credit highlights:

  • The $8000 tax credit is available only to first-time home buyers
  • The $8000 tax credit is available only when the first-time home buyers buy a primary residence
  • The $8000 tax credit is available only to first-time home buyers buying a primary residence between January 1, 2009 and December 1, 2009
  • The $8000 tax credit does not require repayment
  • The $8000 tax credit is claimed on a tax return and reduces the tax liability. If the credit is more than the tax liability, the unused credit will be issued as a check to the person claiming the credit
  • If you sell the home within 3 years, the entire $8000 tax credit must be payed back

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Garden Park at Daybreak: More Details Released

Kennecott Land and Ivory Homes finally sent out a press release about the new Garden Park village that is to be built for "empty nesters." The release gave some interesting details. Here is a summary:

  • Garden Park will be over 100 acres
  • Ivory Homes will build all 500 units
  • The community is age qualified, "where households typically must include at least
    one person that is age 55 years or better."
  • The community will have its own clubhouse and fitness facility
  • Grand opening should be in June
The location of this large addition to our existing Daybreak community is illustrated on the map. As with any plans that Kennecott Land may have, you can be assured that this map will change. However, from this map you can see the convenience of this location as it is literally in the middle of everything.

At first I found it odd that Kennecott Land would select Ivory homes as the exclusive builder for this community, but it seems to make sense when you consider the goals of each organization. Ivory Homes has been and constantly strives to be the "#1 homebuilder in Utah." This rank is associated with the actual number of units built. While building more (500 in all) will boost their numbers, I see this as more of a long-term relationship. Ivory Homes did not jump in at the beginning of Daybreak, but they understand that the whole of the West Bench will be developed by Kennecott Land. If Ivory Homes wants to keep their rank, especially in the Salt Lake Valley, they will need to form a long-term relationship with Kennecott Land. This Garden Park agreement seems to be the beginning of this long-term relationship.

As for Kennecott Land, I can only guess at their reasons. It does look like it would be much easier to deal with only one builder in a project that demands quality and needs to be designed as such. As one of the most experienced homebuilders in the region, Ivory Homes seems to be a logical selection to carry out this plan. Comments would be welcome here. Let me know what you think....

Friday, February 6, 2009

New $15,000 Tax Credit?

Recently the news has been inundated with stories featuring the new stimulus package currently being considered by the U.S. Senate. While partisan politics has definitely played its role in the different amendments to the bill, one measure submitted that was unanimously passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. This provision would provide a tax credit of as much as $15,000 or 10 percent of the purchase price of the home whichever is less to anyone buying a primary residence during a one-year period beginning on the date of enactment.

This supersedes the $7500 tax credit that has been in effect since June of last year. However, the difference is more than just the amount of the tax credit. The $7500 tax credit is essentially an interest-free loan which must be paid back over the course of 17 years. According to U.S. News and World Report this new tax credit does not have to be paid back. It is yours as long as you occupy the new property as your primary residence for at least 2 years.

This measure also stipulates that you can claim this credit on your 2008 taxes even if you buy your home in 2009. So the $15,000 could be an immediate boost for those in position to buy a new home. Many may argue that this measure will probably just be cut from the legislation before it is passed, but as I write this the news is that the Senate has already agreed to the stimulus and will be passing it on to the President soon. The date on which the President signs this bill will be the first date that you will be able to qualify so if you are about to close a deal, you might want to hold off for just a little longer.

Mullins, L.. (2009, Feb. 6). The $15,000 Home Buying Tax Credit: 6 Things to Know. U.S. News and World Report Retrieved Feb. 6, 2009, from

Future Performing Arts in Daybreak

My first experience in the arts was the annual kindergarten Christmas play. I was fairly clumsy and uncomfortable in my little Christmas outfit, but my parents were ecstatic over my performance. This enthusiasm gave me pride in my performance, even though I only had one line to contribute to the script.

While theatre was not a staple in my family I did enjoy going to numerous live performances over the years including All My Sons, Annie Get your Gun, Les Miserables, and others. The importance of theater in our community is the opportunity it provides to experience the immediacy and power of live performances. The stage is a place where ideas are expressed and examined carrying our imagination to a new world.

Locally, we have seen interest in theatre realized in the Daybreak Community Theatre. This group, whose website you can visit here, has so far produced The Wizard of Oz and Peter Pan.
Aristocats, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and High School Musical are all slated for this season. As with any organization devoted to the arts, sponsorship and means to produce are always needed. One of the major issues with this group is a place to perform. South Jordan has been using the senior citizens center for many of the arts and desperately needs a venue for the performing arts. The need for such a facility exists, but how would we fund such a facility and where would it be located?

Salt Lake County recently released their Cultural Facilities Master Plan. This plan is based upon substantial research of demographics and market data. Does this plan have something in mind for Daybreak? Yes, The plan proposes the Daybreak Amphitheatre in Sunrise Mountain Park to be upgraded with a stage house and other improvements. This facility would accommodate outdoor performances during the warm months of the year and possibly provide limited space indoors for rehearsals and other performances. South Jordan City should be taking possession of this park sometime this year.

The Daybreak Amphitheatre will be a welcome upgrade to our community, but it does not satisfy the long-term need for a performing arts center. However, the county also announced plans to build three regional performing arts centers in the Salt Lake Valley. Apparently, the county will be able to free up some "play money" because they are finally paying off the Salt Palace expansion and will have decreasing payments for the Real Salt Lake soccer stadium. So now the question is where will they locate these performing arts centers. Of course, everyone would like a performing arts center nearby. Their obvious cultural benefits to the community are tremendous, but they also have substantial economic benefits to the community around them. One of these centers is planned to be located in the southwest corner of the salt lake valley. In my opinion I think that South Jordan should step up and vie for this amenity to be in our community.

The marketing data collected for the county indicates that South Jordan would be a decent place to site this center, but identifies other locations that are considered better markets. Herriman is listed in the report as a better prospect than South Jordan. However, when looking at the whole I think the center will ultimately be located near the town center of Daybreak.

While there are definitely other possible locations in the Southwest portion of Salt Lake County for this center, Daybreak would be a suitable location for a number of reasons. One of the best reasons is that the West Bench master plan indicates that Daybreak will be the hub for transit and major facilities in the southwest corner of the valley. With TRAX and the Mountain View corridor being built, residents from numerous communities could access the center quickly. Another plus would be the land deal that the county would likely get. While I am not too sure of the relationship of the Salt Lake County government and Kennecott Land, I know that the center would be an extremely attractive amenity in Daybreak and would be a selling point for Kennecott Land. This would also have a multiplier effect for their commercial properties as well. As for the county, you might recall the fallout between the county and Kennecott Land early last year over the West Bench plan. Now the director (who was hired mainly to deal with Kennecott Land and plan the West Bench) and a few planning managers in the county government have been put on paid administrative leave for mismanagement of the Planning Department. Hopefully that does not affect the placement of this center.

As for funds, the City of South Jordan has been fiscally responsible and is in a better position than most to vie for this center. With a good land deal from Kennecott, we might be seeing this $30 million to $35 million dollar arts center, which could include a 500-seat auditorium, a 250-seat black-box theater, rehearsal rooms, gallery space and classrooms in our Daybreak community in the future.
The question is when. While the two other centers are likely to be built in the near future, the Southwest center will not likely be built for years to come. This makes sense as the growth of the community supports such a facility, but waiting until there is more population and complimenting infrastructure will ensure the success of this new center.