Is Closing 100 South for the Tabernacle Temple a Good Idea?

According to my colleague Genelle Pugmire, 100 South is likely to close in the vicinity of the upcoming Tabernacle Temple. Genelle quotes community development director Gary McGinn as saying that,

“It is the church’s intent to include the southern block into their overall temple campus. The vacating of 100 South will also help maximize the potential physical, social and economic benefits that will be generated by this development.”

I look forward to reading more about what exactly those benefits will be. Later in Genelle’s story, she quotes McGinn as saying that LDS temples create “sustainability for the area in which they are built.” As I’ve written before, I remain somewhat skeptical about the inevitability of that generalization, as much as I want it to be true.

I’ll also be interested to see how closing 100 South influences overall accessibility and complete streets in the area. Frankly, it worries me that based on Genelle’s story, it appears that the effect of closing 100 South on motor vehicle traffic  has been a primary focus for the city and the LDS church. Where is the discussion on how this development will affect walkability and bikeability? What will happen to the bike lanes on 100 South? Will pedestrians now have to walk to 200 South to get through the block, or will they be able to cut through the temple campus?

I’ve written before that Provo needs more streets and fewer super blocks, not vice versa; if shutting down 100 South means walkers and bikers have to travel longer distances, this new development will be a significant blow for walkability, as well as economic vitality, in downtown.

This whole development — and the related discussion — is still in the beginning stages, of course, and I’m hopeful that 100 South or something near it will at least remain accessible for pedestrians and become a beautiful area. I’m also a lover of urban gardens, so I’m especially excited to see what happens here.

However, Brent Wilde recently told me that most pedestrian malls in cities have been failures — which is not a good sign as Provo prepares to shut down a street. In the end, if this becomes a sterile single-use area, or if the church erects a wall that cuts the campus off, or if vehicle traffic is the primary concern, Provo may miss a one-time-only opportunity to create something that will generate growth.

The Provo Tabernacle on fire in December 2010. The building will now become an LDS temple and 100 South, just beyond the building in this picture, will likely be closed.

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4 Comments

Filed under Development, Downtown, driving, Provo Tabernacle

4 responses to “Is Closing 100 South for the Tabernacle Temple a Good Idea?

  1. andrewhart5

    Great subject to write on. I’ll be very interested to see what the church does with 100 South. Like you pointed out, if it can incorporate the existing bike lanes and pedestrian ways, that would be a great situation, in my opinion. I agree that it would be detrimental if the construction cuts of traffic flows for those two forms. However, I don’t think cutting it off to vehicles is all bad. That would depend on how they do it and how it effects the surrounding neighborhood.

    In response to what Brent Wilde said, it should be clear that what he was talking about was the closure of pedestrian malls (mostly in the 60s-70s in response to the numerous malls constructed in the suburbs sucking the old downtowns dry). The Provo equivalent would be closing Center Street from about University to 500 W. The church closing 100 S or Nu Skin closing 100 W is a different situation that doesn’t have the same doomsday stigma that Brent is referring to.

    I am glad you are talking about this. I think you’re spot on in being hopeful, yet hesitant. I’d love to ask Gary what he meant by his sustainability comment.

    • Thanks and yeah, I’d also like to ask Gary what he meant; I know that it’s pretty much impossible to get all the info out in one newspaper article, so I imagine he’d have a lot more to explain in a conversation.

  2. Pingback: City Officials Recommend Vacating 100 South | (pro(vo)cation)

  3. Pingback: Urban Campuses and the Tabernacle Temple | (pro(vo)cation)

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