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NuSkin wants Provo 'gathering place'

PROVO — NuSkin wants to build a little bit of Salt Lake City in downtown Provo as part of a $30 million expansion of its international corporate headquarters.

The company is asking Provo to vacate a one-block stretch of 100 West for a "privately owned public space" that will join the company's existing 10-story office building and a proposed six-story, 120,000-square-foot building on the northwest corner of 100 West and Center Street.

"We are looking for something that will give Provo a sense of place, like the Main Street Plaza or Gallivan Center in Salt Lake City," said Gary Garrett, NuSkin's vice president of corporate relations. "This is something that would help people identify downtown Provo as a gathering place."

The company said the open-air plaza and two- to three-story atrium, including a sculpture and possibly a water feature, will be made available for public use, in addition to hosting company events.

Garrett said the yet-to-be-designed project would be built to complement a proposed convention center that Utah County is building in the downtown area.

"We feel that the street is critical to the success of our project," he said. "We plan to blend the new building with our existing structure while preserving the historic feel and charm of the downtown area."

Garrett said the company would maintain pedestrian access through the space during "normal" hours.

"There will be some access through the atrium space so that the public can come downtown and spend the evening and get from 100 South to Center Street," he said.

Provo City Council members heard the initial proposal during a work session Tuesday evening and added a public hearing on the proposal to vacate the road to its March 2 meeting.

"I'm thrilled. I'm excited," Councilman Steve Turley said after indicating he had a number of questions about the project that couldn't be addressed at the meeting because there wasn't enough time. "I'm not talking about any deal killers. I just want more information."

Councilwoman Cynthia Dayton agreed, saying NuSkin's project would be "a great addition to downtown Provo."

The office building would make it possible for NuSkin to bring workers from six different buildings in various parts of Provo and Orem into a single location.

The new building would house the company's innovation and technology center and its laboratory, whileserving as a base for its U.S. operations. It would include retail sales space on the first floor and would bring up to 400 employees to downtown Provo.

Before NuSkin can build on the roadway, however, the city would have to vacate its rights of way on the property and declare it as surplus property.

The city also would have to move water and sewer lines, electrical and fiber optic lines and a 4-inch gas main that now run under the street. Garrett said NuSkin would pay to relocate the utility lines.

John Dorny, a traffic engineer with Horrocks Engineers, said a study performed by his company showed that closing the one-block stretch of street would not have a major impact on Provo traffic. About 2,000 vehicles a day would have to use another route.

e-mail: mhaddock@desnews.com