Built on reclaimed land outside of Salt Lake City by mining company Rio Tinto Kennecott, Daybreak was conceived "as a laboratory to explore a new model of growth in the region," says the company's manager of planning and community design, Stephen James. That may sound rigidly prescriptive, but the effect has been just the opposite, expanding home buyers' options and enriching their experience of the community's built and natural amenities.
"The plan is demographics-agnostic," James says, with housing prices from $160,000 to over $1 million and densities that range from five to 50 units per acre. "We designed in transportation choices such as light rail, freeway, bikeways, pedestrian paths, and even skateboard paths," he says.
That strategy is evident in a community plan that intersperses compact neighborhoods with parks and community gardens, a commercial district, and all the public buildings required to support a community of some 20,000 residences. "We spent quite a bit of time figuring out how to shorten a long walk," James says, "and creating human-scale spaces uninterrupted by wide driveways and parking lots."
The community, which includes 1,000 acres of open space and a recreational lake, is built out sufficiently to have shown clear results.
"We are becoming known as a fit community," James says. "There is an annual triathlon held here, and we are the starting and finishing lines for a benefit bicycle tour. The lake and trails attract paddle-boarders, kayakers, and runners. It's easy to live outside." Perhaps most tellingly, he adds: "At Daybreak up to 85% of the children walk to school, compared with less than 20% in neighboring schools."