It’s been more than 18 months since Orem introduced the idea of a master plan that would transform State Street into a community-friendly corridor.
On Nov. 17, the City Council approved the State Street Corridor Master Plan and amended the Orem City General Plan to reflect the addition of the State Street plan as part of the general plan.
Before that could happen, residents on both sides of the aisle took the open-mic opportunity to share their concerns. Long-term, older residents seemed less in favor of change, as compared to the number of younger millennials who were excited to see what Orem could look like in the future.
The recent political season brought up concerns about Orem turning into a corridor of apartments, and that it would be called Apartment City USA instead of Family City USA.
Residents also made comments stressing that with correct zoning for those apartments, single-family home neighborhoods in the city would be protected.
The number of apartments planned year to year during the past several years has not changed, according to city records. Orem officials are concerned they must plan for expected growth. There are some apartments already in the process of being built that are taking names on waiting lists.
In September 2014, Orem partnered with the Utah Department of Transportation, Utah Transit Authority, Mountainland Association of Governments and Provo to come up with a long-term plan that would provide recommendations for transportation improvements, land uses, economic development opportunities, urban design guidelines and high-density housing options for the State Street corridor.
The city’s long-range planner, Brandon Stocksdale, and some of his co-workers have spent numerous hours on public outreach efforts seeking public input on the plan. Six public open houses, three public engagement websites and numerous presentations to businesses and organizations all preceded the council’s vote.
There are basically 10 objectives developed for State Street based on public input:
1. Create a boulevard on State Street
2. Provide flexibility to incorporate future transit
3. Develop a safe and complete bikeway along State Street
4. Connect State Street to Orem Boulevard
5. Develop unique and strategic growth areas
6. Create an identifiable downtown and center for the community
7. Develop a strong open space network along State Street
8. Preserve and connect existing neighborhoods
9. Create a family-oriented environment
10. Encourage economic development
Now that the council has taken care of the official work, Stocksdale and Jason Bench from Community Services said its time to roll up their sleeves and get to work.
Stocksdale indicated planning will begin next year on some of the districts that are more solidified such as the business district, which includes the buildout of University Place now in progress.
“Our major objectives for 2016 are the City Center District and design standards for the corridor,” Bench said. “We look forward to working with the council and property owners and business owners in the coming years to re-imagine the State Street corridor.”
More than 35,000 people responded online to queries about what they think should happen to State Street, according to Stocksdale.
“I have had thousands of individual interactions with the public, and people overwhelmingly support having a plan for State Street and long-range planning in Orem,” Stocksdale said. “Many people wonder why we haven’t done this sooner and are excited about the future of Orem.”
Stocksdale said one of the biggest things people talked to him about was they wanted a downtown Orem where their families could go and hang out, shop, eat, and be with other people.
“We will be continuing our partnership with UDOT to study safety, medians and other infrastructure improvements on State Street,” Stocksdale said. “We will also be working on the Arts District plan and the City Center District plan.”
Long-range planning will also be studied for potential transit services along State Street, including the feasibility of having TRAX on the corridor.
Stocksdale noted the top three ideas people identified when asked what they wanted Orem to be known for included being family friendly and safe; being business friendly and progressive; and beauty and attractiveness.
According to Stocksdale, 75 percent of residents believe State Street is not safe nor desirable for pedestrians; 70 percent of residents surveyed said State Street needs improvements; 69 percent support light rail or other transit services on State Street; and 73 percent recommend higher-quality and more varied retail options on State Street.
Not all at once
Residents should remember it is a master plan that is part of a five-year, 10-year and 25-year buildout of the city. Most of the changes will come about through private enterprise and developers.
“We’re already working on the City Center District with zone changes and design goals. We’re looking at it as a light-rail corridor,” Stocksdale said.
The Arts District and University Place are well on their way to redesign, with current construction and locations like the SCERA Center for the Arts already in place.
Stocksdale’s job is to grow interest in the corridor with continual dialogue and educating the public on the potential of the area.
“We have many things going for us,” Stocksdale said. “We have two universities, they’re not going anywhere. We also have infrastructure already in place for redevelopment on State Street.”
Residents are still encouraged to give their input as to how the city should proceed and what they think is best for one of the busiest corridors in the state.
For information or to give ideas visit the city’s website at www.orem.org.