New developer thinks big

  UTAH


An unlikely company is proposing to build what most developers can't - a dense community in an area where large homes and large lots are the norm.


Kennecott Utah Copper Corp., which has mined copper in the Salt Lake Valley for almost 100 years, plans to build 12,000 homes, apartments and condominiums and 4 million square feet of commercial and retail space in South Jordan over the next 20 years.


People who choose to live in the new town, called "Sunrise," will be able to walk to churches and grocery stores, bike along a five-mile circular greenbelt and move from an apartment to a home in the same neighborhood.


Kennecott's proposal is more dense than typical developments in the region, which tend to feature fewer than three homes per acre. Kennecott can plan big because it already owns 4,200 acres - one of the largest chunks of open land in the valley - and the company has deep pockets.


"Most developers in the region are smaller, so they don't have the financial staying power," says Stephen Holbrook, executive director of the Coalition for Utah's Future, which sponsored a public/private partnership to study growth in the area around Salt Lake. Because private land is limited, he says, developments are only 10 to 20 acres, and developers must "build and sell."


The company, meanwhile, will continue mining, though Bill Williams, vice president of Kennecott, says its Utah mines will close in 20 to 30 years.


The company's town proposal won't go to the public for several months, but some city council members have already indicated their approval.