The Low Down on the High Rise

Provo’s newest tall building is very close to becoming  a reality and I recently received access to some renderings of the building. The six-story, mixed use structure is planned for 63 E. Center St., just west of Los Hermanos. If you’re a part of the various Provo-oriented Facebook groups, you’ve probably seen some of these pictures though perhaps not all of them.

Along with the pictures, I also took a look at some of the information that has been prepared regarding the project. The documents reveal that the project more or less began last year, when Provo’s Redevelopment Agency — which owned the land — received two proposals for buildings. A committee made up of various community leaders evaluated the proposals and eventually chose the one in the pictures.

The documents reveal that the committee liked this design better for several reasons. For starters, it will include 44 units, while the other one would only have included 18. The committee also preferred the architecture of this design:

Both proposals include design detailing sensitive to the surrounding traditional architecture, but the majority of the committee felt the Triumph proposal was less a copy of older styles and more a contemporary rendition which retains important traditional features.

That passage is significant because it represents an attempt to strike a balance between old and new styles. I’ve heard some people express concern about the look of this building and even I’m personally not thrilled by it. But I also think that a great city needs to be architecturally dynamic and diverse; nostalgia rarely produces great buildings. This structure may or may not end up being great — the rendering isn’t highly detailed so we’ll really have to wait and see — but I’m at least impressed with the committee’s sensitivity to both the past and the future.

The documents also mention that the development should cost roughly $5.28 million and generate $25,000 in yearly property tax, of which 24 percent will go to the city.

In addition, the documents directly address sprawl and competition with downtown:

Over the years, one of the Provo Redevelopment Agency’s main ways of attracting new Downtown development has been to finance parking structures needed by new development. Without adequate Downtown parking, new development is inclined to sprawl across cheaper land in the suburbs. Downtown land is scarce and relatively expensive, so Provo has deemed it necessary to build parking vertically. This is more expensive per stall than suburban parking lots, but the alternative is to forego redevelopment of the old Downtown.

That’s a fairly broad statement and I might want to debate some of the assumptions it implies, but it nevertheless indicates the relatively high cost of parking and the difficult balance landlocked cities like Provo face.

The final really interesting thing I want to mention about this building is that it’s required to provide pedestrian access between the sidewalk on Center St. and the parking structure in the middle of the block. In other words, the building must have a mid-block pedestrian throughway, which is something I’ve written about many times on this blog (here and here, for example). That throughway will add to the diversity of Provo’s pedestrian network and should be a great asset for that section of downtown.

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Filed under building, construction, Development, Downtown

5 responses to “The Low Down on the High Rise

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