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Feisty Utah State Prison tower finally demolished after several attempts

Posted at 9:56 AM, Nov 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-29 19:37:55-05

DRAPER, Utah — After multiple attempts and a lengthy delay, the iconic tower at the old Utah State Prison was finally torn down Tuesday in a somewhat anticlimactic event in front of several dignitaries and media members.

Among those at the site was former Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, who joined others to watch the tower come tumbling down in the Draper area known as "The Point." However, things didn't go exactly as planned.

Once the ceremonial speeches had been given, it was time to send the tower to the ground. But no matter what crews did to demolish the building, the tower remained standing.

The tower withstood several attempts and a variety of tools to bring it down before it was finally pulled down over an hour after it was scheduled to be reduced to rubble.

It was a symbolic moment that represented hope for people like Malakai Matangi, a former inmate who spent 30 months at the prison that once stood on the lot.

“For my reasons, came out here to tear down a bigger wall. And that wall is a wall of change,” said Matangi.

The decades-old prison was closed over the summer as inmates were moved to a new facility near the Salt Lake City International Airport, which has had its own issues since opening.

Developers are set to move in once the last traces of the old prison disappear. The 600-acre site it set to become a new community offering affordable housing, parks and business offices with infrastructure starting to be put in place by the end of the year.

“Parks and space and open trails. Great shopping and entertainment. Housing for people of all walks of life. And really a future focus we’re trying to emphasize innovation, solve problems in our state,” said Alan Matheson, Executive Director of The Point of the Mountain State Land Authority.

The development is a sign of opportunity for people in the area.

"With Silicon Slopes, and all the tech jobs that are coming to Utah, it’s changing an era," said Brett Sellick. "I mean it’s pretty symbolic.”

Sellick is eager to see what pops up in the lot across the street from his office.

“Excited about the change that’s coming and just the new exciting development that’s coming,” he said.

Most of the prison will be demolished to make way for the development, but the facility's prison chapel, which was built by inmates in 1961, will remain on the site.