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.