University Mall has become one of the largest shopping projects in Orem. The renovated center is focused on the needs of the community rather than those of the students.
University Mall leasing manager C. Robert Kallas said they view the student portion of the population just like they view everyone else. While the new housing part of the project will be open for anyone who would like to live there, the complex will not be listed as BYU-approved housing. He said they hope many of the tenants will plan to work within the center.
“We realize that we are located between two universities,” Kallas said. “We would be foolish not to design something that was attractive for students. We are always considering what tenants to put in based on our student population, but this mall is for everyone.”
According to University Mall’s website, local college and high school students account for half the mall’s sales. Amenities within the center meant to attract students will include a large interactive park and play area, which will host concerts and musical events.
Preparations for this project have been underway for years, according to Kallas. After analyzing possible industrial changes, University Mall’s owner, The Woodbury Corporation, came to the conclusion they wanted to converge the mall into a mixed-use project.
This project will also include a hotel, recreation and entertainment elements, an apartment complex, a high rise office complex and several other amenities. Kallas said the purpose of going beyond a shopping mall is to bring “economic growth” to Orem.
Work on the center began in April 2015 with the construction of an office building on the corner of University Parkway and State Street. Soon after, workers began tearing down Mervyn’s. According to Kallas, University Mall had more retail than they needed for the new center.
Once the project is complete, five new office buildings will be on site. Underground parking and a five-story parking garage will replace the parking that was eliminated for the buildings themselves.
“The office building has high-tech commercial office uses and should open up more high-tech jobs,” Kallas said.
The total project is estimated to take between six to eight years. With popular shopping centers like City Creek and Fashion Place Mall grabbing the attention of most Utah County residents, many shoppers are willing to travel for various stores not found in Orem.
“If the new University Mall were similar to City Creek, I would probably choose it over driving to Salt Lake,” said BYU pre-marketing major Ashlyn Howes, a sophomore from Granite Bay, California.
Perhaps the new renovation will bring shoppers back south, but for now many are willing to take the drive for the stores they love.
“I like City Creek better for the experience you get while there,” said exercise and wellness major Mattie French, a junior from Eagle, Idaho. “It’s just a beautiful place with all of the shops that you could want. The new University Mall might make my experience better, but I would never go there just to hang out.”