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USU plans commercial-housing complex near Romney Stadium

July 26th, 2011 Posted in Opinion

By D. Whitney Smith

LOGAN—In this college town, visitors and newcomers alike often wonder, “Where do students go to hang out?” This question is easily answered by indicating the several off-campus haunts that Cache Valley has to offer. However, until recently the concept of close-proximity university hangouts has been, for the most part, only a concept.

But at its most recent meeting, the Utah Board of Regents approved a piece of USU property directly south of the West Stadium Villa apartments for combined commercial and residential development.

“This will be a very nice housing area,” said USU vice president for business and finance David Cowley. “It’ll be the first time that we’ve really had anything on campus that integrated a commercial component into a housing area.”

On the west side of 800 East across from the football stadium, three separate parcels of land totaling roughly 5 acres have been approved for development by La Veta Financial, which is owned by USU alumnus Dave Miller. Miller’s company owns one of the parcels and will lease the remaining property from the university for around $75,000 a year.

Cowley said this type of cooperation will not only benefit all parties involved, but it will also allow La Veta Financial to maximize building potential by combining the adjacent properties.

“We are unusual to be of the size we are and not have a campus town that has developed essentially right off the main campus,” Cowley said. “We’ve always been interested in just looking at the future and seeing how that might be incorporated into the campus.”

Housing director Steven Jensen said the land development will be a public-private partnership, but the new housing facilities that result from the project will be managed by La Veta Financial and not the university.

“It will certainly provide additional opportunities for students,” Jensen said. “I think it’s a higher end housing than is typically found in Cache Valley.”

Other than housing, no other plans have been finalized. Jensen said there has been mention of possibly building one or two restaurants, a café, or other commercial businesses of this kind, but ultimately Miller will have the say.

“A mixed-use housing development, which would include commercial, would add value not only to the campus but to athletic events and to students in general,” said Dwight Davis, associate vice president of business and finance.

Davis said current on-campus housing for the upcoming fall semester has been forecasted at 99 percent occupancy, which indicates that an increase of new housing options would be a positive improvement.

“For all practical purposes, we are full,” Davis said. “If this trend continues, as this development moves forward, it will certainly help to meet some occupancy needs.”

Other areas on or near campus have been the subject of further brainstorming, including the vacant trailer park site on 1200 East across from Aggie Village. Cowley said this will be another area to keep an eye on over the next few years.

Cowley cited USU’s Master Plan, which is essentially a long-term checklist for current and future university building projects. He said development of the trailer park site has simply been proposed but no definite decisions have been made regarding the ultimate fate of the area.

“For a long time, the idea has been that we will have that land available to do some additional development,” Cowley said. “We’ve always considered that to be a prime location for additional student housing because there’s so much housing in the area already.”

Some of the goals “to accommodate long range growth on campus,” according to the Master Plan, are as follows: Accommodate anticipated increases in enrollment, sustain student residency on campus, strengthen and clarify the image of USU, and enhance compatibility with the community.

More information about the Master Plan, including a video, can be found at its USU website.


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