Dear UCAR members and friends,
I have watched and listened to the debate about the University Place and the Woodbury proposal in Orem with great interest. Investments in a community like this don’t come around very often so I am surprised by the lengths some will go to undermine the proposal. I want to make sure you have the full picture of the benefits of the Mall and the remodel. This will be a tremendous benefit to Orem and surrounding communities. But in some cases I have seen and heard blatant misrepresentations and scare tactics used to mislead the public.
Allow me to offer my perspective. First of all, it is important to understand the nature of public/private partnerships. These partnerships typically incorporate large investments which can spur job creation and economic development and offer the public broad benefits with less upfront public funds.
Second, where would Orem be without the Mall? The Mall and the growth along University Parkway and State Street is a partnership that generates a significant amount of sales taxes; this revenue helps keep overall taxes lower. This partnership was made a generation ago. Now is not the time to turn our back on a friend.
Third, Woodbury will make again a significant investment in the community to help the community continue to grow into the future. Their partnerships, investment, and history with the site are clear.
Here are the facts:
1. The Woodbury proposal exceeds $520 Million of new investment in new buildings, infrastructure, and personal property.
2. The CDA proceeds are projected to cover approximately 60% of the infrastructure cost.
3. The infrastructure includes:
a. new roadways to alleviate traffic,
b. new utilities infrastructure that will benefit the project and the surrounding area,
c. a new park that will be a gathering place for the community, and
d. a new parking structure to accommodate the more dense vertical development of University Place and new Orem town center.
4. The proposed plan is purely performance based with absolutely no obligation to the city if Woodbury does not perform on their investment.
5. Woodbury is following the same model used by the Legislature that allows for a portion of the incremental taxes created by the new investment be reimbursed to help fund the cost of infrastructure to the project.
6. This represents a 75% of increment over 20 years.
7. The mall will never pay less taxes than it is currently paying, in fact, it will always pay more, 25% of any of the incremental tax still goes to the city and other taxing authorities.
Let me repeat, the CDA proceeds are going toward the cost of infrastructure not to tenants, not to apartments to subsidize rents, but to infrastructure that benefits the whole community. If Woodbury does not make the promised investments, there will be no incremental taxes and no obligation from the city or other taxing entities.
The partnership from Orem allows Woodbury to invest in the needed improvements. The whole purpose of this CDA tool is to help municipalities leverage economic development to do more than developers could otherwise do on their own. This is not corporate welfare but an investment from the public that leverages the private investments. Woodbury receives, essentially, a rebate on a percentage of the property taxes for a fixed period of time and only on the tax generated by the increased assessed value of the improved property.
Sounds like a win win for Orem and all the surrounding property owners. Please help spread the word about the benefits of economic development, job creation and improving our quality of life.