By Rod Mann
“... there will always be threats to face and things to fear. The way to combat fear within ourselves is with its opposite emotion — which is not calmness, or even courage. It’s love.” Arthur C. Brooks, “Love Is Medicine for Fear,” The Atlantic, July 16, 2020
Interestingly enough when Trammell Crow, the founder of what was at one time the largest real estate management and development firm in the U.S., was asked many years ago what accounted for his success, the answer was love. (Joel Peterson speaking at the University of Utah, Sept. 14, 2020).
Incorporated in 1977, Highland is a relatively new city. But our roots go back to 1869 when the first few settlers began to homestead here. Over 150 years later we are now approaching 20,000 residents.
As we’ve grown, we have managed to retain a community that residents want to stay in for a long time. Resident surveys over the past five years show that over 50 percent of us plan on staying in Highland for 20 years or more while another 25 percent plan on living here at least 10more years. They love living here.
What do Highlanders love about our community? It could be our 360 acres of open space, 23 parks comprising 97 acres, over 22 miles of trails, our fishing pond or our campground. It could also be our library with its delightful staff and great programs, the amazing Highland Arts Council, our talented Highland Children’s Choir, brilliant Timpanogos Symphony Orchestra or excellent schools. Or maybe — just maybe — it could be our wonderful friends, neighbors and businesses who take such good care of us.
Our businesses support the organizations and amenities listed above as well as provide valued services to our residents. The fact that a majority of our residents plan on living here a long time means that businesses have the opportunity to build long-term relationships with customers who appreciate not only their products and services but also appreciate what the businesses do for Highland.
The Boyer Co. is developing a 120-acre parcel located south of Lone Peak High School and north of the Murdock Canal Trail. Running east to west on the south side of the project will be collector road (Canal Boulevard) that connects North County Boulevard to Alpine Highway. This road, which has been contemplated for over 40 years, is currently under construction and will be completed by the end of this year. It will benefit residents of all communities in the area. By 2040, this road will, on an annual basis, reduce vehicle miles traveled by 1.8 million miles and cut carbon emissions by over 600,000 metric tons.
Boyer has earmarked 7.5 acres of land at the intersection of North County Boulevard and Canal Boulevard for commercial development (retail, office, restaurants, etc.). For the right businesses, this will be a great opportunity to serve our existing residents plus those who move into the 699 new homes which will be part of this development. Talk to Boyer early, as this promises to be a very productive piece of real estate.
Current plans for the residential units call for about 200 units a year to be built over the next three years. Within a mile of the development are three golf courses and the Mt. Timpanogos Temple. American Fork Canyon is only minutes away while the Murdock Canal Trail is adjacent to the development as well as the 73-acre Highland Glen Park and Lone Peak High School.
Next year, Patterson will be completing a seven-unit flex office development on Highland Boulevard, north of Timpanogos Highway. This will consist of seven units that range in size from about 1,900 square feet to 3,300 square feet. These will be ideal for service businesses which need parts storage or other firms that need both office and storage space.
A third opportunity for businesses in the coming year will be 23,000 square feet of retail and commercial office space located on Alpine Highway south of Timpanogos Highway. The office space will be finished with shared conference rooms, commons areas, balconies and kitchen space.
The office space will be part of a mixed-use development called Apple Creek that will include 42 residential units — a mix of single-family homes, twin homes and townhomes. Once the development is completed, there will be over 350 townhomes and mansion homes within walking distance in the town center area.
While Highland is considered a bedroom community, our businesses do very well compared to their peers (typically they are in the top quartile for like businesses in the area). Macey’s, Meiers Meats and Fine Foods, Ace Hardware, CVS, Bank of American Fork, UCCU, Alpine Credit Union, FiiZ, Burt Brothers, multiple dental offices, QuickQuack and others provide great service to our community and are compensated with a strong loyal customer base. Highland is also home to the first Blue Lemon and other restaurants such as Pique Thai, Pizza Pie Cafe and China Wok. That said, one of the most common requests I get as mayor is for more dining establishments.
Highland currently has about 20,000 residents and will reach around 25,000 at build-out in a few years. Businesses in Highland typically draw from Alpine (population 10,000) and Cedar Hills (population 10,000) as well as parts of American Fork.
Our city property tax rate is the second-lowest in north Utah County by the barest of margins. Our utility fees are slightly below average.
I regularly hear from businesses and developers how much they appreciate our staff’s responsiveness and professionalism. I hope some of you will share this same experience.
One of the things I very much appreciate about Highland and our neighboring cities is the compassion and kindness that abounds, among both the residents and businesses. I hope in these interesting times that all of us follow the counsel of authors Arthur Brooks and Trammell Crow and counter fear with love. If we love what we do, who we work with, our families and neighbors, and love having a positive impact in our communities, there really is nothing that can’t be accomplished over time.
Rod Mann is the mayor of Highland. He previously served four years as a member of city council. He worked in technology for over 35 years and was a co-founder of two software companies and an early member of two other startups. He now helps his wife with her business ventures. They have four children and 10 grandchildren who are spread all over the globe.