New housing proposal causes community backlash
Jeanette Blain | News Editor | [email protected]
Image courtesy of ICO Development
This fall, Ivory Commercial and Multifamily or ICO, a housing development company, submitted a proposal to the City of Orem to have the property on the southwest corner of 800 S. and 800 W. rezoned for high-density housing. The area is located east of the UVU library behind the Orem Institute parking lot.
The company plans to build campus-adjacent student apartments, which would include six buildings of up to five stories each and a three-story clubhouse building.
If approved, the project, dubbed The Q, will be the closest and highest density student housing in the area with 240 units and 1,056 beds.
Some residents in the adjacent Sunset Heights neighborhood are opposed to the project. They say it will bring traffic problems and crime to a quiet neighborhood that is traditionally made up of single-family homes. They also claim that property values would decrease and many would lose views they are used to enjoying.
At a Nov. 18 community meeting, held in the Classroom Building, more than 100 local residents gathered to discuss ICO’s proposal.
Volunteers have been canvassing the area to gather signatures for a petition to block the project and a website has been created at myoremcity.com.
In the paperwork submitted to Orem City, ICO states that by bringing students closer to campus they are reducing their impact on surrounding neighborhoods. It suggests that the proximity of the development to the school will allow the surrounding neighborhoods to maintain the integrity of single-family housing.
At a neighborhood meeting held Sept. 29, ICO representative, Justin Earl addressed residents concerns. In the meeting minutes he is quoted as saying that the buildings would have full-time management on site and strict rules enforced by management.
However, local residents are also concerned that the current proposal is only the first phase of the planned development. They say that if the first development is finished the company will seek to build an even larger project farther East into the Sunset Heights neighborhood.
In the meeting Earl assured residents that the developer is not currently applying for a rezone for anything East of 800 West. He said if there was going to be a phase two it would have its own separate public process.
University Relations VP Cameron Martin acknowledges that the project would be beneficial to the school, but said it also appreciates the concerns of neighbors. He said the school has encouraged local residents to participate in the process with the city.
“We don’t have an official legal standing and have not issued a formal statement articulating a position. We’re letting the process play its course,” Martin said.
Matt Chambers is program director for the Department of Housing and Residence Life at UVU. His office works with student apartment buildings in the area.
“From our department’s perspective this is a really good project,” Chambers said.
He said that there are several other projects in the area, including Parkway Lofts, which is scheduled for completion in spring 2016, but having one at such a close proximity would allow students to access school resources more quickly.
Chambers said it would increase student life and activity, but would also alleviate the issue that some students had this year, when most existing housing was filled to capacity and students were placed on waitlists.
“As student growth is projected to come, we’re going to need more beds because we’re already hitting fill rate,” Chambers said.
Orem City is not expected to reach a decision on ICO’s rezoning request until next year. Until then the My Orem City group plans to continue to gather signatures and fight the development.