Improvements in the south University Avenue area are expected to begin soon now that the City Council has approved a new redevelopment district.

Council members recently voted to adopt the redevelopment plan for the project in south Provo and instructed the redevelopment staff to implement the plan.Residents and business owners in the area met with the council in October during a public hearing on the project. Several property owners asked to be excluded from the district. The final project area goes along with their request and eliminates them from the section.

According to the resolution passed Tuesday, the purpose of the project area is to eliminate conditions of blight in the area and to ensure that causes of blighting conditions are either eliminated or prevented.

The Redevelopment Agency will encourage property owners to improve front and rear facades of their properties. The agency also seeks to provide financial incentives to assist property owners in expanding and improving their properties.

If necessary, the agency helps property owners market their properties, find tenants and financing. The city is restricted from acquiring any property unless a reuse of the property has been previously arranged.

In order for an area to be declared a redevelopment district, it must meet several criteria that mark it as a blighted area. This includes small and irregular lots, incompatible land uses, obsolete and aged buildings and substandard alleys.

The project area - less than 100 acres as required by state law - extends from First South to 920 South and from First East to First West with a few extensions in the Sixth South-Fourth West area and Ninth South-350 East area.

The Redevelopment Agency chose the south University Avenue area as a project area because a number of business people thought the city "leap frogged" over the area, Redevelopment Director Ron Madsen said.

East Bay has developed extensively and the downtown area has received some help as a redevelopment district, but no attention has been given to south University Avenue for 30 years, said Gary Golightly, economic development director.

"University Avenue is the main entrance into the community," Madsen said. "We would like to encourage a general fix-up and cleanup in the area."