Students and faculty at Utah State University can expect an ultra-modern, mixed-use luxury student-living development to be open by fall of this year, providing amenities that developers and USU officials believe are lacking in a critical area off-campus.
The development team of “Blue Square” — the official name of the mixed-use development — have unveiled detailed plans, with artistic renderings, of how they want the parcels at 1135 N. 800 East in Logan to look.
The detailed plan is a critical turning point for the project, after the USU Board of Trustees and Utah Board of Regents approved it during the summer of 2011.
The General Contractor, American First Builders — under the direction of developer La Veta Financial, broke ground Dec. 1 on the first three buildings. The foundation, footings and ground floor of one building is done.
“This is my first time building student housing, but I feel very comfortable going to Utah State and knowing, candidly, what was lacking,” said Dave Miller, president of La Vita Financial in an interview. “That missing component was really a commercial ... and higher-end, more modern student housing component. This really is the last missing piece for USU.”
The combination of Blue Square's amenities will create a place that is “unmatched at any university in Utah,” wrote Tom Ponich, a member of the Blue Square development team who is also a USU alumnus.
Ponich said he believes Blue Square will be a popular hub for Aggie students and faculty, USU alumni and fans attending Aggie football and basketball games, and all Logan community residents.
“This is a combined effort between the developer, the university and the city. ... We’re all working toward a common goal,” Miller said.
Blue Square is being built by a private developer who is funding the project through their own sources. The first phase buildings are being built on the developer’s personal property.
The private developer has not provided the cost of the project.
USU officials agree, adding that the plan will also provide more room for student housing, which bubbled to almost 100 percent last semester.
“We always felt this was going to be a development area,” said Dave Cowley, vice president for business and finance at USU, at a Utah Board of Regents meeting at USU in July.
But some nearby residents have expressed concerns.
In the summer of 2011, residents of a USU family housing unit questioned members of the administration on the details of the Blue Square project and how it would impact their lives. USU West Stadium Villa apartments are located right across from Romney Stadium.
Those residents are now plenty aware of the ongoing construction, said USU student Crystal Chidester.
“I have a pretty bad taste in my mouth over the whole thing right now,” she wrote in an e-mail. “It's just really difficult living so near such a big project. We have had major problems with trucks using our apartments as access to the construction site and construction has barely begun. We are moving for not only our sanity but for the safety of our kids.”
When asked by The Herald Journal what he would say to concerned residents near the project, Dwight Davis, associate vice president for business and finance at USU, responded via e-mail.
“We communicate with the contractor on a regular basis to ensure the safety and well-being of our students,” Davis wrote. “We are very concerned about safety, and we are working with the contractor to minimize the impact on our residents. We will also be providing regular updates for our residents as we move forward.”
Building One’s first level will be entirely dedicated to 17,000 square feet of on-site commercial tenants and will border Blue Square’s open-air courtyard.
USU’s mixed-use Aggie Village experience will be located on the ground floor. Building One will be a four level building consisting of 36 units and a total of 84 individual beds/bedrooms. A state-of-the-art fitness center will be located on the second level.
The “Blue Square Sky Room” student common/study area will be located on the fourth level.
Buildings Two and Three will also include four living levels containing 26 units each. The total number of beds in the first phase’s three buildings will total 216, or 88 units.