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FRED MEYER FEELING OPTIMISTIC ABOUT SITE

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Fred Meyer Co.'s management is undaunted by the obstacles in their way to putting a huge one-stop-shopping store on the Orem hilltop site where Signetics used to be - the first of its kind in Utah, according to Rob Boley, assistant vice-president of public rela-tions.

"We feel very positive and optimistic about our plans," said Boley, in a telephone interview Wednesday."We're moving ahead aggressively, and we feel it would be a terrific location for our store, something nobody has seen in Utah."

Boley said the backup offer being put together by a con-sor-tium of Utah County, Utah Valley State College, Brigham Young University (for an earth science museum displaying its collection of dinosaur bones) and the National Guard, does not worry his company unduly.

"We have the property under contract," said Boley, "and we believe retail is the best use of that site."

Boley said he was unaware that the proposal was listed as an item for discussion in the Orem Planning Commission meeting Nov. 30 and then withdrawn.

"We know we are on the agenda for the 14th (of Dec.)," he said.

At that time, he said he believes the commission will be excited about the proposal, which will include the super store with a full range of food services, including a deli, bakery, fish market and grocery items; as well as general merchandising, a home improvement area, garden shop, shoe store, clothing sales, fine jewelry and other departments.

"This is a whole new concept Fred Meyer is moving into," said Boley, "and while we have two other full-size stores under construction in Utah (one in downtown Salt Lake City and another in West Jordan) and five major remodels under way, the Orem project will be one-of-a-kind in the state."

The store would take up 165,000 square feet of space on the 23-acre site. Another 85,000 square feet will be dedicated to shops developed by the Boyer Co. of Salt Lake City.

"Our plan would be to use some of the existing structure and maintain the mature and beautiful landscaping that exists," said Boley.

The property is currently zoned for research and development and would need to be changed to a commercial shopping zone. That will require a master plan amendment, the rezone and acceptance of Fred Meyer's site plan by the City Council.

And although some of the anticipated controversy and unrest with the neighbors have reached the ears of upper-level management in Fred Meyer's offices, Boley said he thinks once residents see what they're really proposing, they'll like the ideas.

"We'll bring in less traffic and parking problems than what I understand the backup offer would bring," he said.

Mayor Stella Welsh said the request will probably advance to the City Council the first week of January to set a date for public hearing.

She said, following the press conference called by Utah County Commissioner Malcolm Beck, that she did not attend the news briefing "for an express purpose."

"We haven't had a fair hearing for them (Fred Meyer) yet," said the mayor.

Welsh said the Signetics building has "sat empty for three years" and the city must look seriously at the offer from Fred Meyer.

Having the county step in with another option clouds the picture, she said. "It's put us in a very difficult position."

"But," she pointed out, "it's not our building to sell, and there's a lot of unanswered questions in my mind (about the county offer)."

Councilman Stephen Sandstrom said he too is unwilling to "trash the idea of Fred Meyer" out of hand.

He also wants to avoid having people believe Orem is simply chasing the sales tax dollar. While the retail proposal would put hundreds of thousands of dollars back into Orem's pockets, the consortium project would generate revenue that would mostly go to paying back revenue bonds used to purchase the $9 million buildings.

Boley said the previous Fred Meyer store, which was farther west on 1300 South in Orem and closed several years ago for "lack of profits," had an aging store building and a buyer that wanted to purchase the site. He said the company does not feel that situation has any bearing on the current proposal.