Ask most people in Provo what they’d like to see more of downtown and you’ll probably hear something about retail. With plenty of old buildings and lots of vacancies, it’s only natural that downtown should be filled with stores. But it isn’t.
Slate’s Matthew Yglesias, however, recently pointed out the single cause for this problem: density. Yglesias is explaining why Washington D.C. can’t support as many stores as New York City, but the problem is the same in Provo, only worse because there is far less density here than in those two metropolises.
Yglesias goes on to connect a lack of retail to things like parking and height limits as well. It’s a great post that perfectly sums up why any place — including Provo — can’t seem to support enough stores.
It also raises a question: why isn’t everyone in Provo militantly in favor of adding density. It seems like everyone wants more stores downtown but stores require customers and, clearly, merely expressing the desire to have bustling downtown retail is not having much impact on real-world conditions. Even worse, attitudes in Provo regarding density vary significantly, with many people either disliking it or not really understanding what it is or why it matters.
As applied to Provo, Yglesias’ post isn’t groundbreaking. Density has always been the answer. However, hopefully it helps the community see that there is one very clear and simple way to get more stores in downtown.