Provo residents protest developer’s proposal for ‘visionary’ new housing model

Posted at 10:04 PM, Jun 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-17 00:38:07-04

PROVO, Utah -- It's called the NewVistas Foundation, and the futuristic designs made by a local Mormon businessman are part of an initiative to create an economic system for the 21st century and beyond.

NewVistas Foundation Founder David Hall wants to take his idea to Provo, but some homeowners don't agree with his vision. Thursday night, residents rallied against the plan they say will destroy the area.

The foundation calls for communities laid out in adjacent groups of 15,000 to 20,000 people. The goal is to reduce the need for a car and lower the cost of housing by providing communities where residential, business and agricultural spaces are proximal to residents.

According to the foundation's website, "All of the elements of the NewVistas model are based on the writings of Joseph Smith, who wrote and spoke extensively about the laws and principles on which a successful society must be based. NewVistas conforms to descriptions of a city and society that Joseph Smith prescribed for the Latter-day Saints."

“Our home was one of the first in the neighborhood,” said Brent Barnett, who grew up in the Pleasant View neighborhood.

Dozens of neighbors gathered around as Barnett and other residents expressed their concerns over what one man is trying to do to the place they call home.

“We understand Dave is somewhat of a visionary, and we don't have a problem with that idea, but we don't think it's appropriate to take a historical neighborhood,” Barnett said.

“I've always been crazy, I'm an inventor alright,” Hall said.

Down the street from the rally, Hall spoke with people about his futuristic plans.

“I see things have to be put together like a puzzle in order to get there,” Hall said.

An engineer and interested in new ideas Since the 1970s, Hall has been working on the NewVistas Foundation for some time. The living structures are meant to be self-sufficient, with one building housing hundreds of people. It's a vision Hall wants to bring to this area, and it starts by purchasing homes to get the land.

“I think it's sad he's tearing down a nice neighborhood to build a delusional dream,” said Damon Darais, who grew up in the neighborhood.

Residents feel as if it's David vs. Goliath situation.

“He’s got plenty of money and big accountants and lawyers on their side, and will do whatever it takes to get them out of their homes,” Darais said.

Some claim Hall is bullying residents into selling.

“There have been old people in our neighborhood, call sobbing, saying, 'David Hall is trying to get me out of my home,'” Darais said.

“It's a threatened feeling I think, I have to say that,” said Helen Crosland, who has lived in the neighborhood for 44 years.

Neighbors worry Hall is tearing apart the neighborhood for an unrealistic outcome.

“I can't even envision his vision, I can't even imagine what it would look like,” Crosland said.

But Hall says changes are necessary to support the coming generations and move to a more integrated society.

“I'm determined alright, and I’m just going to continue to buy because I think thousands of people should benefit, not just a few,” Hall said.

Hall has already purchased more than a dozen homes in the area and is averaging one per month. You can find out more information about his plans here.