PROVO — About 26 percent of Provo's budget is dependent on sales tax revenue, and those numbers are expected to increase with Provo's growing population.
Provo began plans in January of 2015 to increase the number of retailers in the city through revolutionizing four existing shopping centers.
Developers and property owners for these centers spoke at a town hall meeting this week to discuss renovation plans and communicate with residents about the effects the retail growth may have on the community.
Retail strategist Scott Bowles said Provo's demographics make it a perfect place for retailers because of its high percentage of college students, great job creation, high birth rate and the increasing number of families with young children in the area.
"Kids are a retailer's dream," he said, "Young kids, as we all know, require lots of stuff."
Downtown Provo's steady, recent growth has included many unique food vendors and boutiques, but Bowles said Provo's larger shopping areas can handle even more.
Developers plan to bring in both food retailers and what he calls "standard" retailers, which are larger corporate stores that can take in customers not only from Provo, but also surrounding communities.
Mix at River's Edge
With plans to overtake the current Plumtree Plaza, 2338 N. University Parkway, David Walter, director of the city's redevelopment agency, said the Mix at River's Edge will be devoted to making shopping "experience driven."
With Westport Capital Partners LLC leading the project, the Mix at River's Edge hopes to extend to the shores of the Provo River, if nearby landowners agree to sell waterfront property, according to Bowles.
Westport Capital plans to build office space, residential apartments, hotels and restaurants. This variety and its location between BYU and Utah Valley University has given the future shopping center its name, "Mix," according to Walter.
Demolition of the current shopping center will begin this fall and should be completed by 2019, according to Walter. Specific plans for the demolition have not yet been released, but many current buildings from the 27-acre area will be torn down to make space for the new development.
Walter also said there is potential for improved bus access for that section of University Parkway, which he thinks will add to the success of development.
"We're very excited about this," he said. "We think it'll have a lot of positive influence."
Provo Towne Centre
Manager Scott Hansen said even though previous Provo Towne Centre owners were good, they "didn't have the vision of what (the mall) could be."
Since its February purchase by Brixton Capital investors, Hansen said he has never been more excited in the 10 years he has worked there.
Brixton Capital first saw their purchase as a "portfolio piece," instead of an asset, according to Bowles. But now, the California investors "love Provo" and want the mall to become a "multifaceted asset for them," he said.
Plans for the Provo Towne Centre, 1200 Towne Centre Blvd., include first, stabilization, and then the growth of food vendors, department stores and entertainment venues.
Completion of the growth is not expected for at least two to five years, Bowles said.
Shops at Riverwoods
The Shops at Riverwoods, 4801 N. University Ave., has been booming since its purchase and beautification in 2009. According to the director of leasing and tenant relations, JJ Haering, "things are going great."
In the past three years, sales tax revenues for the locally owned shopping center have been climbing about 3 percent each year, he said, and in 2015 the shopping center hit its highest sales numbers since its creation in 1998.
The Shops at Riverwoods is expected to climb to 99 percent occupancy in the next year, from its 49 percent at the time of its purchase, he said.
Now home to nearly 40 shops with everything from indoor surfing to fresh-squeezed juice, the Shops at Riverwoods is looking for more retail growth. With that anticipated growth, Haering plans to make adjustments to parking space to create added availability for shoppers.
Haering said he will announce projects and expansion opportunities in the next year, which he hopes will make the shopping center a "showplace" for Provo.
East Bay Shopping Center
Rawley Nielsen, president of investment sales at Coldwell Banker, said brokers are "fighting" for the community to bring East Bay Shopping Center back to life.
When Kmart left, it took four tenants with it, Nielson said, "and that really hurt us."
But with "At Home" joining East Bay Shopping Center, it has much more promise for success, he said.
The shopping center at 977 University Ave. will soon sign a lease agreement with an unnamed national retailer, which Nielson believes will bring at least 10 to 15 more retailers.
"Its all hinging on this national tenant that we're very close to signing with," He said.
Additional information about the Provo shopping centers is expected to be released in about three weeks.
Provo Mayor John Curtis said that because of retailer requests and zoning restrictions, developers cannot yet fully disclose their plans.
But Curtis did ensure the more than 100 attendees at the town hall meeting: "We are on the brink of a lot of very, very good things that are happening in the city."