OREM — A major renovation of a Utah County landmark is expected to generate thousands of new jobs and help invigorate the local economy long term.
The Woodbury Corp. announced plans to invest $500 million over the next decade or more to overhaul the former University Mall and create University Place. The redevelopment project officially broke ground Thursday.
Originally opened in 1973, the shopping center located at University Parkway and State Street has become a local retail and entertainment hub for nearby residents, but property managers said they want to expand its reach into a regional center.
The newly conceptualized University Place will include high-rise office buildings, a multifamily development, a hotel, a community park and an extensive renovation plan for the existing shopping center.
“We see this as an opportunity to grow the mall into a center for the community and (Utah Valley),” said Rob Kallas, the mall's general manager. “We’re going to convert the project to mixed-use by adding elements of housing, hospitality, recreation, along with high-rise office space.”
Over time, the project is expected to include several office buildings of at least 100,000 square feet, with some up to eight or nine stories tall, Kallas said.
“We hope that this will become a center for high-tech companies to do business, where people live and we mature into a center, not just for Orem, but a center for the valley,” he said.
According to a study conducted by financial firm Lewis Young Robertson & Burningham, University Place will create 4,010 jobs throughout Orem and the regional community, while infusing more than $412 million into the local economy.
“This mall has been the economic epicenter of Utah County for 40 years,” said Val Hale, executive director for the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.
Having “a rebirth” of the property with such a large financial investment, Hale said, is “really significant.”
With development projected over the next 10 years, the center will eventually include a 14-screen movie theater, a park the size of two football fields, 435 residential units, a planned swimming and tennis club, as well as numerous other amenities with walking distance, explained Brandon Fugal, chairman of real estate firm Coldwell Banker Commercial.
“We see this as the center of gravity for the entire Utah County market,” Fugal said. “It is central to Utah Valley University and BYU. When you have a location that is central to the two institutional anchors for this market, the ability of companies to effectively recruit and retain talent from the entire market gives this (project) a strategic advantage.”
“This is a strong commitment by the Woodbury Corp. and family in (showing) their confidence in this community and where it’s going,” Orem Mayor Richard Brunst said. “We have a lot of companies that are growing up in Orem, (and) we want to keep those companies here. With University Place, we can do that.”
Brunst said the project could also elevate the city’s profile to attract more economic development.
“It’s going to raise our identity as a place to do business, a place to live, to play … (and) a place that is vibrant and is moving up and forward,” the mayor said.