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University Place to get west end remake

The Woodbury Corp. will seek approval Wednesday to build the UPlace Office and parking structure and to rebuild the west side anchor store, in an effort to continue with its master plan for University Place.

According to the application, the Woodbury Corp. hopes to build a five-story parking structure with 273 parking stalls, with a three-story 70,000 square-foot office building on top of the parking structure.

Woodbury will also demolish an existing anchor store (currently housed by Macy’s) of 207,537 square feet and rebuild a 195,000 square-foot anchor.

The parking structure will have an architectural skin on the exterior to ensure a seamless facade for the office structure on top.

Orem’s development review committee has determined the request complies with Orem city code and the staff recommends the Planning Commission approve the site plan.

“We here at the city are excited to see a new anchor,” said Ryan Clark, director of community services. “We think it will be a game-changer and will help the mall fill some of the empty places.”

University Place opened in 1973 as the University Mall. The original tenant in the Macy’s location was the popular ZCMI department store. The other two anchors at the mall were Mervyn’s and J.C. Penney. J.C. Penney moved to the Provo Towne Centre in 1998, where it was an anchor store with Sears and Dillard’s. Sears at Provo Towne Centre closed two years ago and remains empty.

Following ZCMI at University Place came Meier and Frank, owned by the May company. It became Macy’s in September 2006 as part of a $400 million national conversion from May stores to Macy’s.

Earlier this spring, Macy’s announced several store closures, including the location at University Place.

“We have greatly enjoyed our long relationship with Macy’s. They will be leaving our center this year at the end of their lease term,” said Randy Woodbury, president of Woodbury Corp., on behalf of University Place on April 25 in response to Macy’s announcement. “We are underway with plans for additional redevelopment of the west side of University Place and we look forward to providing further information about these plans in the coming months.”

The anchor building demolition will be the last of the original University Mall anchors.

A new anchor store has yet to be formally announced.

Saratoga Springs mom, former LDS singer, creates homeschool curriculum used by more than 100,000

It wasn’t until the semitrailers pulled into Jenny Phillips’ Saratoga Springs cul-de-sac that she realized what she’d gotten into.

Her life had been simple. But after she posted her homeschool curriculum online, parents kept wanting more. She knew that if she was going to keep doing this, her life was going to have to change.

“I never intended to start a company,” Phillips said.

Four years later, The Good and the Beautiful has grown to 170 employees and is used by more than 100,000 families.

The nondenominational Christian curriculum company is based out of Lehi and includes curriculum in every subject for kindergarten through eighth grade, with materials for high school students expected in the fall.

Just like owning a company, Phillips never intended to homeschool her children, either. But then she said she started reading the books her children were, and was shocked at the disrespect shown toward siblings, parents, teachers and learning she found inside, along with what she said is inappropriate material.

Phillips said that although she volunteered in the classroom, it was still a drive-through education where most her involvement was dropping them off at school and picking them up.

“I didn’t know what was going on,” Phillips said. “I was totally disconnected.”

So, she began homeschooling.

“They were thriving, and our relationship was so much better and we absolutely loved it,” Phillips said.

It was also completely overwhelming. Phillips, a former religious singer who also has a background in English literature, started with a language arts curriculum and expanded from there.

A lot of what she found online were worksheets. She wanted to incorporate nature and fun, while still keeping content academically strong.

“I wanted to bring in more beauty, more meaning to it,” Phillips said.

She posted it for free on her music website. From there, homeschool bloggers began raving about how much they liked it, and it began spreading to social media. Before long, she had her own company.

The curriculum is created by homeschool parents with degrees in their fields. It is reviewed by experts and is piloted before it is released.

Lessons are designed to not require preparation work from parents. Some subjects, like history and science, are taught family-style and then have individual work for the different grade levels.

It’s all designed to make the homeschool experience easier on families like the Phillips, who have five homeschooled children.

Phillips credits keeping the company running to a supportive spouse and finding the right employees at the right time.

“I knew it was going to be hard and it has been crazy hard,” Phillips said. “It takes a whole team.”

Although Phillips is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she said the curriculum is nondenominational Christian and is not designed to teach doctrine. Phillips said most of the parents who use The Good and the Beautiful are not Latter-day Saints.

The company also produces a free booklist and plans to run a social media campaign about the impact of literature on children.

“I feel like we are losing a whole generation of children who care about good literature and they are just getting into the fast, thrilling, easy literature, and we are trying to bring back a love of truly beautiful literature to children,” Phillips said.

To help others find the books she loved, The Good and the Beautiful started a division reprinting Phillips’ favorite out-of-print books. It has released 70, with another 100 in the process of being edited. The company plans to eventually offer several hundred.

The Good and the Beautiful also hosts an annual convention and has an active Facebook community.

Phillips said she’s received emails and letters from parents and children who have used the curriculum, including parents who were about to give up on homeschooling and a 9-year-old boy who said the material changed his life and gave him a love of learning.

“The only thing that keeps me going is knowing it is doing good in the world,” Phillips said.

Warrant shows woman met with Provo man to get marijuana before he was fatally shot

A Provo man had been “stomping on the head” of a woman before he was fatally shot by a neighbor earlier this month, according to newly unsealed search warrants from the police department.

Witnesses told investigators that Jeremy Sorensen, 26, was beating an 18-year-old woman in the driveway near 500 N. 200 East in Provo on June 3.

The woman had met with Sorensen to purchase marijuana from him as she had several times in the past, police reported.

At some point, a fight started and Sorensen tried to grab the woman’s purse despite her protests that there was nothing in the purse. He reportedly struck the woman with a closed fist and bit her before she fell to the ground.

“It was reported that Jeremy was stomping on the head of (the woman) and was actively assaulting her while she was on the ground and Jeremy was above her,” the warrant stated.

During the fight, a 22-year-old neighbor “drove up to the house and attempted to get Jeremy off of (the woman) and tried to get Jeremy to stop assaulting (her).”

The Daily Herald has elected to not to name the neighbor as he has not been charged in connection with the shooting.

The neighbor produced a handgun and the woman broke free from the fight and ran behind the neighbor.

Witnesses reported that Sorensen ignored several verbal warnings from the neighbor and advanced toward them. At that point, the neighbor shot Sorensen twice, police reported.

Officers arrived at the scene soon after and administered first aid. Sorensen was transported and pronounced dead at the Utah Valley Hospital.

Investigators said the woman suffered a concussion and other substantial injuries during that assault.

The Utah County Attorney’s Office is still determining whether or not to press charges against the neighbor who fired the shots.

BYU law students create product to cut down on evictions

Avoiding evictions is all about communication. But as a group of law students discovered, tenants need a little help.

“We kind of came in skeptical of landlords and we left very sympathetic,” said Kimball Parker, the director of the LawX Legal Design Lab at Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark Law School. “What often happens is a tenant does not pay rent, and then there’s a communication breakdown and the tenant and landlord don’t talk.”

It’s an issue the team of LawX students uncovered while working with the University of Arizona’s Innovation for Justice Program to find ways to make the law easier to navigate for tenants undergoing the eviction process in court.

The students studied the issue during the last academic year, interviewing judges, tenants and landlords. The project led to the creation of Hello Landlord, a free online tool that drafts letters to landlords. The website,, launched Wednesday.

The product was created with help from SixFifty, a subsidiary of the law firm Wilson Sonsini.

The online tool is in both English and Spanish. It asks tenants about their specific situations in order to draft a letter in English to landlords to alert them if they’ve missed rent or will miss rent, why and how they plan to pay their landlord.

Kimball said 95% of the landlords they spoke to said they’d work with the tenant if they were given the letter. It’s written in common language to be easily understandable and nonthreatening.

More than 7,000 evictions are filed in Utah every year, and most defendants aren’t represented by an attorney.

With most of those evictions being for missed rent, and a quickly-moving court system, the team soon learned there weren’t many defenses available for tenants.

“Once you get in court it moves so fast there really isn’t any time for tenants or landlords to sit down and have a conversation,” said Scott Balsmeier, a BYU law graduate who was in the LawX lab.

The landlords the team met with told the group they’d be willing to work with tenants if the tenant explained their situations to them. The problem, the group found, was that tenants don’t know what to say.

“It really is this communication breakdown that kind of forces the landlord’s hand,” Parker said.

The team had previously tackled how those without legal representation can answer a debt collection lawsuit with the creation of SoloSuit, an online, Turbo Tax-like product. The LawX group used lessons from that project to look at evictions, and immediately found differences between the process of a debt collection lawsuit and an eviction.

“This is the most hostile regime you can think of,” Parker said. “At least with debt collection you have 21 days to respond to a lawsuit. For evictions, you have three.”

Along with the shorter response time, responding to an eviction includes complicated legal fillings. It’s why the team decided the best response would be to prevent a court case before it begins.

“Our goal was to reduce the amount of people who were getting evicted out of their homes,” Parker said. “This is our best shot.”

Hello Landlord can also draft letters to landlords alerting them about repairs that need to be done.

The lab plans to tackle another, yet-unannounced legal issue during BYU’s winter semester.

As a LawX student, Balsmeier liked the idea of taking an unconventional approach to solving legal problems.

“Seeing the success they had with the SoloSuit project encouraged me to want to be involved and incorporate those new skills and develop those, because I thought that legal innovation is really lacking right now,” Balsmeier said.

The team wants the product to be used nationwide.

“I hope that it is utilized, I hope that it is able to help, that tenants are able to use it to communicate with their landlords and that they are willing to, at least,” Balsmeier said.