Joe Urban | Sam Newberg, Urbanist

CNU 21 Dispatch 1 – Return to Daybreak

Dateline: 8:42 pm May 31, 2013 Filed under:

It has been seven years since this urbanist last visited Daybreak. In 2006 I wrote an article for ULI (you may have heard of it). At that time Daybreak was a few hundred homes, a school and the idea of new urbanism was indeed new to Salt Lake City. Now, one housing bust and a light rail line later, I returned to see if Daybreak has grown up.

It has, but in human terms, it is no longer a young child and now a responsible teenager with a job and a bright future. The Trax red line now serves Daybreak, a present plus and future huge benefit. There are two stations, one of which (South Jordan Parkway) literally has nothing around it, but someday will.

Leaving the Platform

Step off the platform at the terminus of the line (Daybreak Parkway) today and you are greeted by a new major employer within steps of the station. A University of Utah Health Care facility brings employment to Daybreak and allows for a reverse commute. More impressively, the pedestrian scale of the building and its connection to Trax is well done.

Health Care

The rest of the pedestrian connection from Trax to Daybreak must evolve, but there is evidence that it will. Looking northeast from the station is not unlike the view from Orenco Station used to be in suburban Portland – a distant promising-looking TOD appears on the horizon like a mirage. Eventually walkable development will fill in the space between the platform and existing buildings, but for now a temporary asphalt path (and promisingly, ornamental lighting) connects to existing multifamily and the new town center.

Mirage TOD

The first major multifamily project you reach on foot from the Trax station is the Crossings at Daybreak, and they disappoint this urbanist. The design is bold but has no relationship to the sidewalk – where are the doors!? Perhaps offering proof that the development isn’t pedestrian-friendly, I observed management driving a golf cart through the complex. Also, there was dog shit on the sidewalk.


Further on, Sego homes was selling attractive rowhomes with front stoops overlooking the big roundabout. Ah, the roundabout. As this is a Calthorpe master plan, the roundabout serves to separate the big arterial in to a paired couplet. And like in San Elijo Hills, it works. The roadway through the town center is 42 feet or so across, much narrower than it would otherwise be if the “transpocracy” had its way. Those 42 feet include on-street parking on both sides of the street, some of which already gets used even with limited commercial development. Furthermore, the pedestrian call buttons are responsive and provide good pedestrian access across and throughout the area.


And we arrive at the town center. The new development there is called SoDa Row, and it lines a one block stretch of a street connecting the two paired couplets, a nice, narrow, pedestrian-friendly street. The commercial buildings mix uses, design and setbacks, and businesses include a Mexican restaurant, café, sports bar, bakery, salon, and kids store. The food serving businesses have outdoor seating. The public realm includes benches, trees, an outdoor gas firepit, splash pad, some vaguely threatening public art, bike racks and a stringer of overhead lights.


The one driveway is marked by bollards but shares a paving pattern with the sidewalk. This gives the pedestrian a level of authority that I like very much.

I like this building

Not to be ignored is the RioTinto regional offices, are across the westbound couplet street from SoDa row. As corporate offices go with secured entrances and all, this is very well done. There is a main door at the corner, and putting employees on the sidewalk and just steps from coffee and food. Even side entrances have a covered area, with a door on the sidewalk as if the sidewalk was meant to be used. The main drive-up entrance is at the back of the building, off a side street since it really doesn’t generate that much traffic, as is the parking ramp, concealed from view. The back side of the building is literally across the street from residential townhomes – no buffer, since good urbanism requires no buffers. Corporate management who want their own building but prefer to be part of a town center should take notice.

Rio Tinto

A few quibbles I have, other than the imposing art sculpture are the lonely swingset and signage overkill. There isn’t much yet in the town center. SoDa Row is small and there must be a greater center of gravity there, but it will come with time. More importantly, Daybreak must evolve with future rental housing projects to fit better in a walkable setting. They need not be mixed-use, but just have some front doors and walk-out units to activate the public realm.

Overall, though, Daybreak is growing up and looks as if it will be a positive contributor to urbanism

Best front door in Daybreak

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>