The Point Reaches New Milestone: The Demolition of the Last Remaining Guard Tower
Many of The Point's founding team pictured above: left to right: Don Willie, The Point operations director, Troy Walker, Draper City Mayor, Alan Matheson, The Point executive director, Jordan Teuscher, Utah House of Representatives and Board Co-Chair.
The Point of the Mountain State Land Authority has announced the demolition of the decades-old prison facilities is nearly complete. Today, August 30, 2023, construction crews toppled a final guard tower in front of a cheering crowd, a dramatic conclusion to the initial demolition phase of what will soon become perhaps Utah's most iconic and modern multi-use community, as previously covered by TechBuzz.
In November 2022, demolition of the aging prison facilities kicked off in earnest when crews knocked down the first guard tower—a robust structure that put up stubborn resistance to the heavy machinery attempting to knock it down. The former Utah State Prison utilized three different types of guard towers. Today’s demolition of the final tower is a long-legged, spindly type built decades ago. As a relic of the past, guard towers have been increasingly recognized as an obsolete form of surveillance and are being removed at correctional facilities across the country.
Some members of the community proposed that the final guard tower be repurposed as a rodeo announcer's booth at the Andy Ballard arena in Draper as a nod to the state prison's decades-long presence in Draper. In response, other voices countered that "a sniper's nest," as it was derisively called, isn't the image the rodeo arena is looking for. Since the November demolition start date, work has progressed rapidly to remove nearly all antiquated buildings and structures.
The Land Authority, in close collaboration with the Utah Division of Facilities Construction and Management (DFCM) has prioritized sustainable practices during demolition. For example, they have recycled over 70% of all materials, with 100% of the concrete from the old buildings having been recycled on site.
An on site concrete crushing operation has eliminated approximately 160,000 miles of truck traffic, improved air quality, reduced wear and tear on adjacent roads, and lessened the impacts to neighboring communities. The crushed concrete will be used as roadbase and foundation material for future construction at the Point, obviating the need to truck it in by the thousands of tons from outside the facility.
In addition, the Land Authority and DFCM have removed invasive species such as thorny, unwanted Russian olive trees and chipped them into dozens of mulch piles scattered on site. The mulch will be used for landscaping, trail development, and other uses, in later phases of The Point's development.
“From day one we made a commitment to Utahns that we would conduct our work at The Point in a sustainable manner. Our demolition efforts directly reflect that commitment,” said Alan Matheson, The Point executive director. “Concrete from the old prison buildings is being crushed onsite for use in the foundation of new buildings and to build future roads. We believe that this is not only a sustainable approach to development, but also literally and figuratively transitions the site from a place of constraint into a place of openness, learning, and opportunity.”
While most of the aging and outdated facilities are removed, the Land Authority has preserved the prison chapel, known as the “Chapel by the Wayside.” Inmates built the chapel in the early 1960s with a multi-denominational group of community organizations and citizens who helped to fund its construction. Since 1961, the prison chapel has provided inmates with a place to exercise their spirituality. It will continue to be an important part of the site’s future as a symbol of redemption and hope.
Demolition efforts have been no small undertaking yet have progressed at a rapid pace. This is evidenced in the following metrics:
- Concrete - Enough concrete to lay the foundation of 1,040 homes.
- Steel - Enough steel for 66 four-story commercial office buildings.
- Asphalt - Enough asphalt to construct over five miles of road.
- Rebar - Equivalent weight of over 541 cars.
- Iron - Equivalent weight of approximately 22,795 iron beams.
“The decades-old prison facilities surrounded by razor wire and guard towers are virtually gone. The land that was previously isolated, closed, and restricted will soon become open and accessible for all Utahns to enjoy," said Rep. Jordan Teuscher, Utah House of Representatives and Land Authority Co-Chair. “We are transforming this site into Utah’s Innovation Community where Utahns will have the freedom to choose from a variety of high-paying jobs, world-class shopping venues, family-friendly activities, recreational amenities, entertainment venues, and so much more.”