OREM -- A local developer is ready to sink between $45 million and $50 million into a 12-story hotel on the mouth of the Provo Canyon site hotelier John Q. Hammons abandoned two years ago.
Jimmy Zufelt Construction now owns the option to the property at the juncture of 800 North and University Avenue, says developer Paul Washburn, and Zufelt plans to put a 340-room hotel and 1,000 seat conferencing center there.Suspected fault lines and a permanent gas line in the area allegedly caused Hammons to rethink and eventually drop his plans for a high-rise hotel/restaurant/convention center on what is known as the Olmstead power plant site.
Washburn said extensive trenching has failed to produce proof of any fault lines that would preclude building a hotel on the property. He said the construction can be designed around a gas line that reportedly became problematical for Hammons.
Washburn said he doesn't believe the property was abandoned by Hammons for inherent problems with the land. He said the abandonment was tied more to management disagreements. The land was optioned to Longwood Development, which has since optioned the project to Zufelt.
Washburn is taking Zufelt's request for permission to build The Canyon River Plaza Hotel in the residential and development zone at 800 N. 1550 East to the Orem Planning Commission Wednesday.
"The conference center will drive the 128,000 square-feet project," Washburn said.
"We'll have 25,000 to 35,000 square feet of conference space, a parking garage, two office buildings with 200,000 square feet of space, a restaurant in the hotel and another restaurant on the property."
Washburn said Zufelt intends to donate 3 1/2 acres of ground to Orem for a linear park along the Provo River -- a river with no public access anywhere else.
Former city councilman Stephen Sandstrom will be the architect for the buildings. Approximately 200 jobs will come with the project, Washburn said.
Access to the corner site is planned to come from 800 North directly across from the gas station and convenience store access on the north side of the road.
Washburn said he's been talking all along with officials from the Utah Department of Transportation since 800 North is a state road, and they endorse the proposal.
He said he believes the council will be supportive of the idea and may offer to make a $3 million community development block grant available to the project -- money originally set aside when Hammons planned a hotel/conference center.
He doesn't see a problem with adding another hotel to Orem's skyline, although at least three major hotel projects have been added to the community in the past couple of years.
"The occupancy of the hotel will be driven by the conferencing center," reiterated Washburn. "That's something badly needed. There's a severe shortage of such facilities in Utah County."