There is much to be said about what is being built or could be built along Orem’s portion of the University Parkway – but is it the right buildout.
On Tuesday, the Orem City Council got a first glimpse at a commissioned University Parkway Overview by Economic and Planning Systems Inc. The commercial feasibility study will be along the Parkway corridor.
Matt Prosser, involved in the overview, rehearsed to the council what is already there, open land or redevelopment availability and what could potentially be put there.
The study is expected to identify areas of the corridor that are susceptible to current economic challenges presented by national changes in retail spending patterns, office utilization, and lack of affordable housing which are all exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Prosser.
The study will identify existing conditions and explore opportunities for positive adjustments in land use and patterns that address these challenges and meet the goals of the city, the city’s General Plan, and city neighborhood plans.
Additionally the study will specifically look at highest and best use assessments for the former Central Utah Water Conservancy District property located at 355 W. University Parkway and another high-priority area along the corridor (TBD). Civitas will aid in producing alternative renderings of these study areas to illustrate how they can redevelop.
Councilwoman Debby Lauret said she would like to see a hotel along University Parkway.
The land where the Central Utah Water Conservancy District was previously located is for sale and is highly prized, but awkwardly fitted to the traffic in the area.
Mayor Richard Brunst noted that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was building the new Orem Temple just off the Parkway and the conservancy land would be a great location for a reception center.
“Orem doesn’t have one reception center in the city,” Brunst said.
“There are 15 housing projects around the college (Utah Valley University),” Prosser said. He also noted that the role of the Parkway spelled market possibilities.
When it comes to office demand, there were a lot of questions and discussion. Prosser noted that much of the latest office space being built is on the edges of the city and not in the business center by University Place.
Brunst, however, reminded the council of the large class A office space being built on top of the current parking terrace under construction at University Place.
Prosser talked about concerns that people are working more from home since COVID, but he said there are already signs of a rebound. He also indicated that Orem could pull some of the business back that left for Lehi.
“There is a Lehi burnout happening. It’s hard to get to some of those offices,” Prosser said. “It’s easier to get to office space in Orem.”
The overview should show where mixed-use developments could be located, where housing and restaurants and other entertainment business also could be located.
One of the issues to be taken under consideration is the buildout of The Mix at River’s Edge that is also along the University Parkway and just inside Provo city limits. It also will feature housing, office space and retail and potentially a hotel.
The Marriott hotel planned at the University Place campus has been delayed because of COVID issues and will not start building until 2023.
“Woodbury Corp had anticipated starting construction in the first quarter of 2020, but had to delay due to pandemic impacts and now do not anticipate moving forward with construction until 2023, but will continue to observe market developments and move forward as the market dictates,” said Amanda Butterfield, spokeswoman for Woodbury.
The complete University Parkway Overview, with suggestions on what should and could be best for the corridor will be completed no later than early June.