Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Plans for 112-Acre University Mall Project Released
OREM - On Tuesday, the Woodbury Corporation announced that the 112-acre University Mall property will become a "university district" with retail and office spaces, residential options, park land and numerous other amenities that together will form an urban gathering place for the community.
Plans for an expansion of University Mall have been closely guarded and under legal non-disclosure contracts since last spring.
The plans have now been made public, and residents are starting to get their first look at what the major project will bring to Orem.
"We've looked at this from a bigger picture. We're mixing things that go into an urban core," project consultant Kris Longson said.
The Woodbury family has reached out to designers and founders of the "new urbanism," Duany, Plater-Zyberk and Company.
"They aren't looking at this as a development, but as a legacy to their family," Longson said. He also noted there is no way to tell the eventual cost of such a project because it is market- and phase-driven, but it is anticipated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Orem City manager Jamie Davidson said it will give Orem a "sense of place." Not just a mall.
Rob Kallas, general manager of the mall, said the structure, built in 1973, is the backbone for what is coming. In the application description and designs, there are spaces for mixed-used retail/office spaces, retail/residential, just residential, just business offices and a major park and gathering place. There will also be street reconfigurations, parking terraces, new major entrances with traffic lights and other potential amenities such as a hotel.
Phase one, which Woodbury is expected to start early next year, will include tearing down a portion of the Mervyns' wing to begin building the park. The park will be a minimum of 35,000 square feet. The park amenities will potentially include a children's play area, grand lawn feature, stage, and could possibly offer an outdoor ice skating rink. The park is attached to the mall and flanks outdoor store entries including H&M, Forever 21 and others.
"As a city we've always wanted to have a gathering place and a community oriented area," Davidson said. The park is intended to [provide] this not only for the potential residents but for all who shop, play and work there as well.
"We see a lot of young mothers bringing their children to play and visiting with each other," Kallas said. "The design will be similar to Bryant Park in New York City. This is the catalyst to start this University District."
The first phase also will include a four-story Class A office building on University Parkway, a parking terrace and apartments to be built just north of the Cinemark theaters on 800 East. A major arterial road from 800 East to State street also will be built. New stop lights will be at both entrances on 800 East and State Street.
"The interior of the mall will also receive a cosmetic remodeling," Kallas said.
Davidson added, "We don't just want an open sea of parking. Because it's a high tech area, we will be catering to high tech users."
As far as those options, Kallas said that UTOPIA service is already part of the infrastructure at the mall.
According to Longson and Kallas, there are ongoing negotiations for tenants for the properties. However, sensitivity in the negotiation period keeps them from disclosing the interested parties.
"We've seen bigger office tenants leaving Orem and going to Lehi. We want to keep business in Orem and bring businesses to Orem," Longson said.
He said that while big buildings are being erected in places like Lehi, they don't have the amenities offered like restaurants, parks, activities and living spaces that this new university district will offer.
Residents in the neighborhoods surrounding the mall have received their first invitation to see the plans at an upcoming neighborhood meeting Thursday. At that time, discussion will consist of the project plan, more pedestrian access to the mall and the addition of housing that will be built where there is a block wall facing the neighbors on 590 East at around 1100 South.
Orem is quickly becoming landlocked, and Davidson said retrofitting and redeveloping spaces will be a high priority in coming years. "The future of this community does involve going vertical because of limited land," he said.
According to Longson, the application process has started with the city and they will come before the planning commission the first week in November.
Design team, Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk are considered leading town planners, and their company is known for designing towns and retrofitting areas into livable, walkable downtowns.
They have completed more than 200 towns and community revitalization projects worldwide.
Plater-Zyberk has been the personal designer for the University Mall project. ELS Architecture in San Francisco has been retained for the retail architecture aspect of the development, and a currently-unnamed but recognizable developer will be involved with the housing aspect of the project. Woodbury will design the rest of the project.