University Downs for sale after Nelson Brothers split

Photo by Andrew Creer

The empty property southwest of UVU campus known as University Downs has been listed for sale after the Nelson Brothers, Brian and Patrick, split their real estate company.

An employee of Nelson Partners said the separation of the original Nelson Brothers company went final Wednesday Oct. 3.

The real estate company had big plans for the location as of 2016 when The Daily Herald reported that grading had begun for the complex that would include 316 student housing apartments. The property would have included an eight-story parking garage, a six-story amenity building, a six-story married student housing building and a 10-story student housing tower. Construction on the project has since ceased, and the lot has seen no activity.

Brian Nelson and his new company NB Private Capital has retained the University Downs property in the division of Nelson Brothers, according to Nelson Partners, Patrick’s new company. Colliers, the real estate company representing the sale of University Downs, confirmed that Brian owns the property as well.

He did not return several calls requesting comment on this story.

Nelson’s course of action with University Downs is made more interesting by the development of the Palos Verdes property east of UVU campus into student housing, which hangs in the balance of the Nov. 6 general election where Proposition 5 will be decided. Proposition 5, if passed, would rezone the property from a residential R8 zone to PD-48, or student housing zoning.

The Palos Verdes property, which is owned by PEG Development and the Woodbury Corporation, would house up to 1,600 students. The development would help fill the need of the university for dormitories or student housing on or near campus. Taylor Woodbury, chief operating officer of Woodbury Corp. told the Daily Herald in February that there are 35,000 students at UVU and only 3,500 beds in housing units around the campus.

“From a macro perspective, it is very important to UVU that we increase the number of student complexes that are close and contiguous to campus,” said Cameron Martin, vice president of university relations for UVU.

Still, the university wants to be good neighbors, Martin said.

The more student housing complexes that can be supplied adjacent to campus does a few things, Martin said. “We get students out of basements and illegal apartment rentals, because they’re trying to get as close as they can.”

It also decreases the amount of traffic coming to campus, with better mass transit capabilities to take students into Orem, Provo, and even up to Salt Lake City.

“You’re taking away the necessity for [students] to have a car to access campus by those two variables,” Martin said. “So that’s being a good neighbor, we believe.”

If Proposition 5 does not pass, student housing developments west of campus in the Geneva area will become even more prudent, with no better location than University Downs. The land, which is listed for a price of $10.5 million, sits just southeast of Wolverine Crossing and Parkway Lofts, two other prominent student housing developments near UVU.

With the addition of student housing to the east and west of UVU, Martin said the price of housing would regulate and become more competitive. However, he said the school is wary of continuing to build east of campus where there are already established neighborhoods.

“We want to keep as close to the campus as possible,” Martin said, “to not infringe upon the quality of neighborhoods around Orem.”

Matthew Robins, coordinator of housing and residence life at UVU, declined to comment for this story.

Ty Bianucci
Ty Bianucci is a life-long fan of the San Francisco Giants, 49ers and Golden State Warriors who started on the sports beat for The Review, but now contributes investigative stories. He, along with two of his colleagues, were awarded the Sunshine Award in 2018 by the Society of Professional Journalists.