University Place office begins new investment in Orem

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Orem Mayor Richard Brunst and other city government officials participate in the ceremonial groundbreaking of University Place on Thursday, Jan. 29. (Ari Davis)

Woodbury Corporation, the real estate company behind the University Place expansion, is moving forward with its developments on its first class-A, five-story office space, a “commencement and a culmination,” according to University Mall manager Rob Kallas.

Groundbreaking festivities were held on Thursday, Jan. 29. This community investment has reached more than $500 million.

The Community Development Agreement adopted by Woodbury is a tax rebate of property tax paid over a 40-year projection intended to add new jobs and build investment in Orem’s community.

Council member Hans Andersen initially opposed the agreement and created a referendum petition, but the agreement eventually passed due to lack of petition signatures.

The office building is the first of several new developments planned at University Mall.

“There’s so much that has been achieved, (but) this is just the beginning,” said Randy Woodbury while addressing the crowd at Thursday’s groundbreaking event. “We’re really just starting.”

Orem Mayor Richard Brunst thinks the new office development will keep Orem jobs in Orem, creating a “marriage” between Woodbury and the city. Orem-originated business NorthStar Alarm Services will be the building’s first tenant.

“This has been a long-awaited event,” said Dan Noble, NorthStar’s chief operating officer. The company plans to “leverage strength” from University Mall and its central location between BYU and UVU.

Long-range planner Brandon Stocksdale said that as malls across the United States are dying, University Place represents a “re-envisioning” of what a mall can be. The multi-use environment will feature retail, residential and office space.

Orem is Utah Valley’s No. 1 “incubation city.” Orem is the geographic center of the county, as well as the fifth largest city in Utah.

“That’s not going to change,” Stocksdale said. The development pressure has caused the city to analyze and capitalize on land uses to see the best developments take place.

Stocksdale said one of the challenges Orem faces is building up.

“As a land-locked city, we’ve built out completely, and once you build out, your only option is to build up,” Stocksdale said. “So we want to do that in the best possible way.” The city wants to “expect and encourage density” and the growth of revenue-generating businesses while protecting neighborhoods and the downtown feel.

The Woodbury Corporation owns and manages more than 12 million square feet of retail, industrial, hotel, residential and office buildings. All of University Place’s developments are expected to be fully completed within eight to 10 years. They will include up to five new office buildings, four new parking garages, a hotel, a tennis club, a three- to four-acre park, a playground and three new restaurants.

“As this project gets completed … and we start implementing different changes with that, we can expect to see a lot of new investment in Orem,” Stocksdale said.

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