Provo City Council members voted unanimously on Nov. 20 to approve the rezoning of approximately one acre to create housing for married students and young professionals in Provo.
Because the proposal had its first and only hearing on Nov. 20, City Council member Kay Van Buren was skeptical of voting on it so quickly. No citizens present at the meeting opposed the agenda item, however, so he ended up voting in favor. Doing so is not something he said he wants to become a habit.
“I do worry about making it common practice to vote on non-routine items on the first hearing,” Van Buren said. “I think this is a good project.”
Provo City Planner Dustin Wright proposed the rezoning plan, which includes the tearing down of three existing structures — one duplex and two residential homes — in order to build a 20-unit apartment building.
It is anticipated that the new structures would keep the status of a medium-density zone that the current structures have.
“Those developments are already there and aren’t going to change,” Wright said.
City Council member Dave Knecht said the proposed plan sounded like a great idea but that he was skeptical about how the project could make a profit in the future.
“It’s an appropriate and good redevelopment, but one of the necessary parts of redevelopment is being able to buy the underutilized properties at a price that makes the project work,” Knecht said.
Derrick Tornow, a managing partner at M5 Commercial Funding, is spearheading the project. He said he hopes to utilize the partially used lot near 650 North 100 West and 69 West 700 North and give residents added opportunities for housing.
After hearing how difficult it was for his niece to find married housing close to campus, Tornow said he grew sympathetic and wanted to play a part in helping young married students and professionals have more options for housing in Provo.
He will work with designers and architects to finalize the designs for the future building and hopes to start building within the next year once the weather allows for it.
Tornow assured council members that he and his group want to hear the voices of the residents who are affected by their projects.
He said he enjoys the way Provo has set up the process to make a zone request change because, despite the few extra tasks he and his team must go through, it assures the city that they will get the best ideas possible.