It’s no secret that Utah Valley is growing by leaps and bounds, and 2016 didn’t disappoint. The LDS Church opened a new temple, cities built new parks, developers announced the reinvention of existing shopping areas and UTA is working on a new transportation option for Provo and Orem.
Provo City Center Temple
In December 2010, the unthinkable happened: A fire gutted the Provo Tabernacle, a beloved historic landmark. But instead of razing the building, the LDS Church chose to save it and transform it into a temple.
In January, the LDS Church opened the Provo City Center Temple to public tours. Sellout crowds — 800,000 people in all — packed downtown Provo for nearly two months, culminating in a cultural celebration and dedication in March.
At the moment, construction crews working on bus rapid transit are making driving through Provo and Orem a little more difficult. They’ve got University Parkway and University Avenue in the cities torn up, with lanes redrawn in areas and left turns limited in others. But the end result will be a new bus system that mimics light rail — think TRAX in Salt Lake City — with more frequent buses and more rapid travel than the current system.
And though construction is underway, there’s an ongoing effort to stop it, or at least limit the scope.
Places to play
Utah Valley residents love parks. There are tiny pocket parks in neighborhoods, parks in canyons, large city parks and now Utah Valley has dog parks, and all-abilities park and coming soon, a new mountain bike park.
Orem spent more than a year raising money and mobilizing volunteers for its All-Together Playground venture, now open at City Center Park. In September, several thousand people descended on the area in shifts and donated their time to install new playground equipment for children of all abilities.
And after spending about a year searching for just the right spot, this year Orem decided to dedicate an area of Mt. Timpanogos Park in Provo Canyon as a dog park.
University Place in Orem opened a new park and indoor and outdoor play areas in October. The area also has outdoor seating and choreographed fountains.
And coming soon is a new mountain bike park in Provo. The city started working on the beginning-to-intermediate course at Slate Canyon Park during the fall.
The former University Mall is in the middle of its redevelopment, and this year crews completed some major projects.
In May, crews completed the new high-rise office building on the south end of the property. And NorthStar Home — the first tenant — moved into 30,000 square feet on the top floor. And in addition to the office building and new park, crews also finished a new connector road between 800 East and State Street.
Shopping centers reinvented
Though construction hasn’t started yet, changes are coming to Plumtree Shopping Center and likely Provo Towne Center. Both acquired new owners in 2016.
The owners of Plumtree, now called The Mix at River’s Edge, will almost totally reconstruct the center. When done, it will feature retail, restaurants, office space and housing.
Brixton Capital purchased Provo Towne Centre in February. At the time, it said it planned a “robust capital expenditure program.” The mall opened in 1998, and hasn’t been updated since.