American Fork, Utah
a Visionary Community Balancing Tradition and Progress
Never losing its small-time charm, American Fork is forging new economic paths toward a prosperous future
Representing the balance between small-town charm and the amenities of a big city, American Fork is a thriving community, embodying the true American pioneer spirit. Established by Mormon settlers in 1850, it was one of the first cities in Utah’s development. Since then, American Fork has continued to evolve and thrive, boasting an exceptional quality of life for its 34,422 residents, offering top-notch schools and workplaces, along with an array of cultural and recreational amenities. With a central location and accessibility via Interstate 15, the city also serves as a regional hub of Northern Utah County.
Highlighting some of the city’s remarkable features, Patrick O’Brien, Development Services Director, emphasizes, “One of the great things about American Fork is the people. We’ve got such a diverse group of people in the community.”
Describing picturesque mountain views, the stunning backdrop of the American Fork Canyon, lush national forests, and the presence of the beautiful Lake Utah, he adds, “That sets the backdrop for American Fork. You’re out in the middle of the lake, you look across our community, you see the mountains. You don’t see any other communities around us. That falls into the overall picture of American Fork in Northern Utah County. We are not a crossroads community, but we are the central place.”
American Fork City Council Member, Staci Carroll states, “One of the things that struck me when I moved here was the link to the history and the heritage. Essentially, it’s that idea of the Pioneer ancestry. People here are hard-working. That agricultural community is still alive and present, but I’ve also noticed it in city pride. A lot of families have lived here multigenerational. People are entrenched in ‘we are from American Fork, and we’re proud of it’. It is also a very helpful community. I’ve been struck by how many people are willing to help other people.”
Strategic Planning for a Thriving City
Currently, American Fork has several key initiatives underway, aimed at enhancing its infrastructure and connectivity. Along with the introduction of a new Fiber network, the city is also focused on improving road networks, particularly around important development hubs like 200 South and the Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) zone.
The TOD connects the community with other areas and integrates with the FrontRunner station, which is set to undergo enhancements, including a double track to accommodate more frequent trains. “That can help to serve our community even more, for the people who live here and for people who come here to work or visit. It gives them more options of traveling in and out of our community,” suggests O’Brien.
The Pony Express Road, in the southern portion of the community, is another upcoming project that will enhance the city’s transportation network, connecting American Fork to surrounding communities.
“We’ve got a lot of people that live in our community but also work in our community. They don’t always like to choose the car every day. So, we’ve got some fantastic bike and pedestrian trails that link all parts of our city along with connecting to some of our adjacent communities as well,” says O’Brien.
American Fork also boasts fantastic park spaces, such as Art Dye Park, which serves as a central gathering spot for the community, attracting visitors from both within and outside the city. Furthermore, the city has acquired 30 acres of land for future park development, located near the TOD area.
With several business attraction strategies in the works, American Fork is working hard to preserve its unique identity. “We love the idea of people who are rooted in our community. Those are the mom-and-pop businesses, those local family businesses. I’m a firm believer in those people being the backbone of your community,” O’Brien explains.
The city takes pride in the fact that it has several major regional and national enterprises that also call American Fork home. These include supplement and nutrition companies Built Bar and Bucked Up, cosmetics and pharmaceutical manufacturer TCI Biotech, and Domo, an IT company.
“These businesses are welcomed here, and they kind of get ingrained in the community. We’re always about supporting the small and local businesses, but we are always trying to attract bigger businesses as well,” he acknowledges. “Not everyone can work for the small local mom-and-pop business, but they do want to have something unique within their community. We’ve got some huge players in the city that you won’t find in neighboring communities.”
Diverse Housing for Every Stage of Life
American Fork offers a wide range of housing options, catering to various stages of life. This diverse inventory includes single-family homes with generous lots, compact single-family residences, denser suburban-style communities, townhomes, and apartment buildings. The city carefully plans the distribution of these housing types, strategically placing them near significant retail and commercial centers as well as transportation networks.
“We think we’ve done a fantastic job at ensuring that we build the right things in the right places. We don’t want to build density far away from being able to get people out to their commute in the mornings, or far away from the public transportation network. So, we have that throughout our community,” relays O’Brien.
He points out that much of the density is strategically positioned near commercial cores situated outside of the downtown area.
Referring back to the TOD community he adds, “Our vision is that it is a transit-oriented destination. We’ve got a lot of residential development, which is built out around that, and we’ve got a major plan for mixed-use commercial retail and residential development in that core area surrounding our frontrunner station. That’s one of the great things that American Fork has going for it, different parts of our city have these unique feelings about them, while they’re still very much American Fork.”
Preserving History while Building for the Future
American Fork’s downtown area, while already home to unique and vibrant enterprises, is undergoing a revitalization effort, a priority for the city council in recent years. Carroll admits to the challenges involved, but she underscores the benefits of assets like a library, a spacious park, and the unique and vibrant businesses along the corridor that add to its character.
She says the city is actively seeking funding opportunities to breathe new life into downtown. To achieve the goal of drawing people to the heart of the community, the city hosts events such as trick or treating on Main Street, a farmers’ market in the park, special shopping occasions, and Christmas celebrations with Santa.
“One of the things that has been important is to continue with the history and heritage of American Fork as we continue to grow. I feel like that is something that American Fork has been able to do well,” Carroll says. “We have to be very intentional, and the Main Street Downtown portion of that is part of that goal, not getting rid of some of those older buildings and revitalizing that look and feel that we’ve had for the area.”
Valued Partnerships that Lead the City Forward
None of the success that the city is experiencing would be possible without the key partnerships and collaborations of entities such as the American Fork Chamber of Commerce, and the Mountain Land Association of Governments (MAG), the planning organization for the region.
“They are huge partners,” reports O’Brien. “We’re not just a community on our own, we share boundaries with several other communities. We have our visions as a city, but we also share a huge regional vision as Northern Utah County, and MAG is fantastic at helping to coordinate some of these plans.”
Mentioning that MAG provides funding to research city initiatives, and is a huge supporter of the city vision, O’Brien relays that UDOT and the Utah Transit Authority are also valued partners who ensure the city has the transportation links it requires to move forward. “The path might differ, but at the end of the day, our end goal is always the same. And that’s to serve the people in the community,” he says.
With a continued focus on growth and development, American Fork is a city that represents the quintessential spirit of small-town America, offering a wealth of opportunities. O’Brien maintains,
“With everything that we do, we need to be conscious of how we’re growing. We need to follow a sustainability approach to ensure that we have water as we grow, and to ensure that the people that live in our community are served with all of the amenities and services that they need.”
“We don’t just want rooftops here for people; we want a place where people can be happy, and that they can stay forever.”
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AT A GLANCE
American Fork, Utah
What: A city growing in population, development, and opportunity
Where: Northern Utah County, Utah
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