PROVO — Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi has plenty of fond memories of the Plum Tree Shopping Center.
The center, located near 2230 North and University Parkway, was once home a Shopko, Movies 8 and Carousel Ice Cream Parlor. She recalled a time when one child was upset he couldn't join his siblings on a Scout camp adventure, and she took him to the theater for a $1 movie showing.
"He thought he was the coolest kid because he got to come to the movie by himself with his mom," the mayor recalled. "For a mom struggling to raise all these wild kids that are big kids on a dime, it was perfect."
Years later, and as the mayor of the city now, Kaufusi found herself at the podium positioned at a once-busy parking lot and in front of an excavator. She acknowledged that the location was full of many fond memories for many residents; however, the buildings had been vacant for years and the growing city was ready to keep up with changing times. It was time to demolish the plaza.
Kaufusi got the honor Tuesday morning of delivering the first excavator blow to the old Shopko as the city began demolition of the old shopping center to make way for The Mix at River's Edge, which will be a multi-use development complex. In one swoop, she helped pull a section of the old Shopko facade to the ground.
"We've been looking forward to this for some time," she said prior to delivering the first blow.
The current plan calls for 173 townhome-style condominiums, 250 stacked apartments, and 50,000 square feet of retail and commercial office space, according to Nate Pugsley, CEO of Brighton Homes.
The facility plans to also include a pool, spa and picnic areas for residents, as well as pickleball courts, a trail system and views of the nearby Provo River and Riverside County Club. That's on top of "close proximity" to BYU's campus and the city's office areas and mass transportation, Pugsley said.
He said his company closed on the property last week and started the work of tearing down the old buildings on Monday. He added that construction on the first commercial buildings and "first phase" of the condominiums is expected to begin within the next four months, while construction on the apartments could begin by the end of the year or the beginning of 2022.
The project is something that's been in the works for a while. Provo city officials said The Mix at River's Edge went through "numerous plans" over the past five years and also a change in ownership.
Just like spring arriving after a long year of COVID-19 challenges, this development is the economic breath of fresh air Provo and its citizens deserve.
–Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi
"It's a culmination of years of work from countless members of the Provo City staff, multiple taxing entities that we work with to put together a tax entity that would allow this project to move forward, but it's been a long time coming," said Keith Morey, the economic development director for the city.
Morey pointed out that The Mix at River's Edge is just one of several development plans scheduled for the Provo area in the near future. That includes a new city hall and a second Qualtrics headquarters that would add 1,000 new jobs announced back in 2019.
Kaufusi said that the project would only add to the growing list of economic development.
"'Economically vibrant' is one of our Provo pillars; it, along with 'forward-looking,' 'safe and sound' and 'welcoming' are the foundation of a strong Provo," Kaufusi said. "Just like spring arriving after a long year of COVID-19 challenges, this development is the economic breath of fresh air Provo and its citizens deserve."
She added that she hoped the project would create new structures that would allow others to experience moments at the location like she had with the previous buildings.
"We now have the right timing (and) the right team to finally make this development back to its glory days and create a gathering place where a new generation can make memories."