Developers begin massive Geneva redevelopment in Utah County
Vineyard • Geneva Steel may be history, but the storied mill’s name will live on in a massive planned community of homes, offices, and retail, office, university and industrial space that developers say they will build on the east shore of Utah Lake over the next decade.
On Friday, Anderson Development officially kicked the project into gear. To be called @Geneva, the community eventually will be home to 26,000 residents when it’s fully built, probably in 2025, said Gerald Anderson, one of the owners of Sandy-based Anderson Development.
Plans for the 1,750-acre site at 800 North and Geneva Road include a town center, 1½ miles of beach front, as many as 7,500 homes and apartments, 2 million square feet of retail space, 3½ million square feet of office buildings rising as high as nine stories, and 5 million square feet of industrial space.
The project isn’t just a gleam in the eyes of Anderson and his partner, Michael Hutchings or Ice Castle, a Salt Lake County-based retirement fund that owns half of the land. About 900 acres have already been sold to roughly 20 developers. Utah Valley University has bought 100 acres and has an option to purchase another 125 acres.
Greg Miller, CEO of The Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, announced at the kickoff that his company will build a 13-screen movie house that will open late next year. And Matthew Holland, president of UVU, didn’t deny rumors that the fast-growing university might build a football stadium. (He didn’t confirm them, either.)
Day’s Market, a Heber City grocery chain, will build a store that will serve residents of 1,500 apartments. It isn’t clear when the store will be built, but construction of the apartments will start within 12 months, Anderson said. Work on 320 apartments is already underway, he said.
"We have at least as far to go as we have come in the past," Anderson said. "The big reward is people are starting to buy into our vision of what this community could be. All of a sudden, people are sensing this will happen."
Anderson Development bought the vast property out of bankruptcy in 2005 for an undisclosed amount. The company demolished 100 buildings to get it ready for development. But until UVU’s Holland entered the picture a couple of years ago, the company had no clear idea how the land should be developed.
"We could be a college town," Anderson said. "Now we had a vision. We knew where we were going."
Holland became UVU’s president in 2009. Almost right away, he said he realized that the fast-growing university had outgrown its 180-acre campus nearby across Interstate 15 in Orem. Shortly after taking office, he toured the Geneva site, but didn’t think it was a good fit until much later when he was approached by Anderson.
"One of the reasons that UVU is here is because very early on I knew as part of our administration we were going to have to find room for the campus to expand," Holland said.
"Our master plan shows room for more buildings [on the present campus], but it didn’t take me very long to figure out that parking issues and traffic issues and just the growth of the region, that we were going to need to take the university out. There became a search for how we would do that.
"The first week I was here I actually walked the property to look at it. But at the time it didn’t make sense and it didn’t feel right, and a part of that [was] because we didn’t see a partner like Gerald Anderson, who came forward later," Holland said. "We listened to him talk about his vision ... and we said, there’s our partner."
At one time, Geneva was the biggest steel mill in the western U.S. Today, after several years of cleanup work, close to 65 percent of the site is "environmentally clean," Anderson said, adding that the biggest job still ahead is to remove "literally millions of tons" of concrete.
"It’s a huge redevelopment project. It’s certainly the largest redevelopment project in Utah history and one of the largest redevelopment projects in the United States," said Hutchings, Anderson’s partner.
Financing for the projects will be largely the responsibility of the developers who have signed contracts with Anderson Development. Hutchings said several banks have already signaled their willingness to extend loans.