By MATT LEMMON
Land has been approved for the construction of a new hotel at the mouth of Provo Canyon, according to Orem City Planner Ben Thompson.
The area is currently zoned as a research and development park. That means hotels are permitted in the area, Thompson said.
Residents in the area are opposed to its construction, according to Dorothy Westover, who lives just around the corner from the planned site. Westover said she fears the 12-story, 298-room Canyon River Hotel will bring extra traffic to 800 North.
“There’s already a problem with traffic and (a hotel) would only increase it,” she said.
But Development Consultant Paul Washburn, who is working on the project, said he doesn’t think the hotel will bring much traffic to the area.
Utah Department of Transportation officials estimate the new hotel would generate only one percent more traffic, Washburn said.
He said some increase in traffic is inevitable because 8th North is part of the SR-52 State Highway, but he said more traffic will come no matter what.
The hotel is planned to be built on the 30-acre site of the old Hale Power Plant, just west of the highway interchange at the opening of the canyon.
Washburn said construction is already underway, with water and sewage lines in place. Workers have cleared out about 40,000 cubic yards of fly ash, which was left from the old power plant, he said.
The next step will be to fill in the land, which is about eight feet lower than the surrounding area, and to construct an access road at 1500 East, he said.
Washburn said two office buildings will be built on the site, with work beginning on them this spring. They will offer a total of about 60,000 square feet of class A office space, he said.
At an unspecified later date, construction will begin on the hotel. The hotel will also have a 24,000 square-foot conference center and a restaurant.
As to whether the hotel will succeed in an already hotel-saturated community, Steve Densley, President of the Provo/Orem Chamber of Commerce, said although the site is nice and the hotel will improve the appearance of the entrance to Orem from the canyon, the venture is a gamble.
“It’s something that I think will be extremely difficult to do due to the low occupancy in other hotels recently,” he said.