The Utah Valley Convention Center is poised to open. According to that article — written by my friend and colleague Genelle Pugmire — the new building’s grand opening will be held on May 12. The convention center also has a number of scheduled events, which is fabulous.
Here are a few other things that excite me about the convention center:
• The front door and steps. One of the best places to find me when I’m traveling is sitting on the steps of an old church eating a sandwich or a gelato. This is a pretty common activity in major (tourist) cities, but sadly Provo had no equivalent. (The tabernacle might have been close, but University Ave is unpleasantly busy and it’s going to be gated as a temple anyway.) So I’m excited to sit on the steps or planters from time to time and take in the city, or in other words to be a flaneur.
• Related to the steps, that article above quotes the center director as saying it will house a small cafe. There are plenty of little restaurants in downtown, but not many that consistently serve a good breakfast. So I have high hopes for this one.
• Parking. Though it’s only alluded to in the article, it appears that the convention center does not have sufficient onsite parking for events. I’m excited about that fact because it represents a fairly significant shift in developers’ approach to downtown. As the article points out (and as I’ve mentioned) there is plenty of parking already in downtown. Developers are counting on convention center users taking advantage of that existing parking, and walking a block or two to events (out-of-towners will likely use hotel parking). Though it may not seem like a big deal, the fact that the convention center operators decided they could get by without excessive onsite parking reveals a lot about downtown property values, the role of cars in Provo and perceptions of convention center visitors. I think that no so long ago the perceived demand for more onsite parking would have been greater.