Logan • Utah State University is a residential campus embedded in one of the state's most attractive cities, but it lacks the kind of commercial district that acts as an off-campus social anchor in most college towns.
To fix that, USU officials are proposing to partner with a private developer to convert 5 acres of land across the street from the football stadium into commercial space and student housing.
"We don't have a sense of a living community. This is an idea for a campus town that is close to the university," said David Cowley, USU vice president for finance, during a Board of Regents meeting Friday on the Logan campus.
The University of Utah proposed a similar idea, but on a much larger scale, for the Rice-Eccles Stadium parking lot. The developers, however, shelved the Universe Project two years ago when the economy soured.
USU's main campus in Logan is home to about 17,000 students. About a fourth live in campus housing, which is completely full. Cowley had been eyeing 2.5 acres the school owns on 800 East, across from Romney Stadium, as a possible site for future residence halls and he investigated purchasing an adjacent 2.5-acre parcel.
But that land was already under contract to alumnus David Miller and his firm La Veta Financial. Cowley discovered La Veta planned a mixed-use student housing project, so he developed an idea to hook USU's parcel into that development.
Cowley's proposed ground lease of the USU property to La Veta would net the university $75,000 a year. "It would be a development of high-end housing, the kind that the university wouldn't bond for," Cowley said. "All this housing can feed commercial activity near the stadium."
The Regents approved the arrangement, along with another proposed USU partnership with the private sector. Officials are entering into an agreement with developers to build commercial space along Brigham City's Main Street. The school owns a former Kmart building west of the former Indian school slated to become a new campus.
That building is fronted by a parking lot that Cowley proposed leasing to Orvieto Investments, which would build a structure to house a Verizon store and two eateries.
Regent Brent Brown pointed out these businesses would be the new frontage buildings and suggested imposing height restrictions to keep them from obstructing the view from the street of the former Kmart.