Repurposed Mining Land Offers Affordable Mixed Housing Options

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Daybreak, a mixed-use, walkable community in South Jordan, Utah, is the first project in the region to reclaim surplus mining land and create opportunities for market-rate affordability without additional subsidies. The largest master-planned community in the state, it is entitled for more than 20,000 homes in a city of about 66,000, located 18 miles south of Salt Lake City.

Kennecott Land Company, the developer, was established in April 2001 by international mining company Rio Tinto to convert surplus mining land into mixed-use development. The planned development on 4,200 acres on the west side of South Jordan comprises about 36% of the city’s land area. An intensive and thorough period of remediation, restoration and reclamation for the property lasted through the mid-2000s; construction at Daybreak began in 2003.

In 2016, the Developer sold its Daybreak assets to Värde Partners, a Minnesota-based global investment firm, with a significant presence in Utah. A new company, called "Daybreak Communities," has been formed to manage Daybreak's development. Daybreak has incorporated smart growth principles to minimize sprawl, water use and congestion.

The community’s collaboration with Envision Utah — a statewide nonprofit civic engagement organization — provides a guiding vision for the planning and development of the property.

The development of Daybreak is governed by a Master Development Agreement between the City of South Jordan and the developer that designated Daybreak as a planned community zone, which provides substantial flexibility for development options. Daybreak may develop at any density that the market can support, up to the maximum number of entitled units.

The developer commissioned a 180-page Daybreak Pattern Book to establish Daybreak’s application of sustainable design and transit-oriented development. The development is divided into 12 "villages," each planned for approximately 1,000 to 1,500 residential units. A growing town center houses regional employment and retail uses, parks, schools, churches and employment. Ample parks and recreational spaces are integrated throughout the community, and every home is located within a quarter-mile of a park or the extensive trail system. Most villages contain a wide variety of homes, ranging from condos to large single-family homes.

Daybreak’s variety of single-family and multifamily residential product types and price points create many opportunities for affordability. The focus is on for-sale homes; to date, more than 90% of the housing units are owner-occupied.

Keys to success include:

  • Mixed-use development
  • Variety of housing types and price points
  • Green building
  • Sustainable development
  • Multimodal transportation options
  • Pedestrian-friendly design

For more housing affordability resources, including the full case study on the Daybreak development, visit and the Land Use 101 toolkit at The toolkit also includes access to the full report, How Did They Do It? Discovering New Opportunities for Affordable Housing.

Deborah L. Myerson, AICP — author of the How Did They Do It? Report — contributed to the content of this article. Myerson is an urban planner with 20 years of experience in housing, community development, land use and transportation policy, and urban revitalization.

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