Could This Building Someday be a Neighborhood Shop?

This building is located about a block from my house. Judging from its appearance, I’m guessing it was at one time a commercial building. Today, I mostly see people standing around outside smoking, and occasionally smashing glass bottles. I believe it is or recently was being used as studio space for teenage artists, and I’ve heard an unsubstantiated report that it was once used as a music venue. But in any case, it’s pretty shabby now.

That’s too bad because it’s in an interesting, walkable, and comparatively dense neighborhood. In other words, it really ought to be put to better use.

Relatedly, in this article Kaid Benfield discusses the “resurrection of the corner store,” or exactly the sort of idea that could benefit this building. Benfield discusses ongoing efforts in Washington D.C. to bolster historic neighborhoods, which efforts came up on this blog recently in this post and which presumably would help corner stores.

Benfield mentions that corner stores are much beloved in neighborhoods where they still exist. That assertion is in line with my own experience in Provo; when I lived in the north Joaquin neighborhood I enjoyed patronizing the relatively new South End Market. My experience with corner stores in other parts of the world has also been positive. I’ve found them to be convenient, charming and a boon to walkability.

But perhaps the most significant and locally applicable point Benfield makes is this:

“The conventional wisdom seems to be that it takes a thousand households within walking distance to support a corner store. But there also seem to be lot of exceptions to the general rule.”

If that is the general rule, that may explain why this building isn’t a corner store today. The Joaquin neighborhood just isn’t dense enough yet. On the other hand, increased population density could potentially lead to more mixed use facilities in Provo neighborhoods. And maybe someday, this building or another like it will be just one of many corner stores in Provo.



Filed under community, neighborhood

10 responses to “Could This Building Someday be a Neighborhood Shop?

  1. Nathan

    When I first came to Provo in the mid-1990’s that was still being used as a grocery store, but soon lost its nonconforming rights. There have been a few requests over the years to use it again commercially but the requests have received a lot of opposition from the neighborhood because of…… wait for it…. lack of parking. I too wish it was a store again.

  2. Yeah, there’s some contentious zoning issues surrounding that building. A ton of effort went into making that building the Bike Collective (which is now on Center near the freeway), but it there was no way to do it with city permission due to previous zoning problems. :o(

  3. ARGH! Why can’t we just let cool things exist?! Thanks for the comments; I just so bummed to hear that the city would basically have an abandon building than something that improves the neighborhood.

  4. Julie

    Hey, I think I know that building! If I’m right, I had a bunch of guy friends who lived there about 13 years ago (I think the ’98-’99 school year). They called it The Dojo, because it was once a karate studio (or at least that was their story). Anyway, for us college kids it was the hippest party house. They had a few “bedroom” areas curtained off with blankets, but most of the floor space was just one big open room. I remember they had a swing hanging from the ceiling and a four-square grid taped on the floor. And of course the whole building could become a dance floor. I don’t know how/whether they had to work around any zoning issues (although I don’t think being law-abiding was their #1 priority). So yeah, that building has been caught in an identity crisis for quite some time….

  5. Pingback: The Saga of the Neighborhood Shop Part 1 | (pro(vo)cation)

  6. Scott

    Just found your blog and find it fascinating. That store that you mention used to be a corner market called Ernie’s. He used to live in the house that was attached to it. As a kid I used to visit it with my grandmother who lived in the house just to the east of it. It was a quite neighborhood store back in the day

  7. Pingback: New Guerrilla Art in the Joaquin Neighborhood | (pro(vo)cation)

  8. Colleen

    While I was an undergrad (1996-2000), that building was indeed referred to as “The Dojo” and was used as living space and a music venue. Here are a couple of links that substantiate its sometime use:

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