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Provo: Angling for an urban feel

from the mean-streets-of-provo dept.
The Daily Universe is running an interesting article about Provo's plans for its struggling downtown. The city is working with Chris Leinberger--a consultant and "new urbanism pioneer"--to develop a plan that would create a high-density multi-use downtown area which "efficiently combine[s] high-end storefronts, executive office space, luxury housing and private parking into a multi-use facility." The article quotes Chris as saying that "Without a downtown, you don't have a living room, you don't have a community room [where] the entire town can come together. It just doesn't exist."

I think he hits Provo's problem right on the head. Between campus, our apartment complexes and the mall there isn't much of a cultural gathering place to be found, no vibrant and eclectic downtown, merely struggling small-town shops.

My question is whether it's really possible to transform downtown Provo into this urbana that we envision. In many ways I believe it is. There is a lot more to Provo than just the students or the people in the nice neighborhoods north/west of BYU (the ones who own our apartments). People tend to gripe about Provo being too homogenous etc, but I'm guessing that there is a lot more cultural-zest around here than we think. Due to our lack of a common gathering place, I believe we have unintentionally segregated ourselves from one another and in-turn, have stifled our city's cultural development. If the future downtown succeeds at attracting people from all walks of life I believe it will actually be a success.