Moving Provo’s public safety operations away from Center Street, demolishing and rebuilding the city offices along with other buildings with storefronts to match the rest of Center Street, reopening 400 West — but probably not as a through street, and making 100 South a linear park and more pedestrian friendly.
The recommendations for downtown renovations are in and the city council has discussed them. Now the city is going to put out a request for proposals to redevelop the area where the city office building, police and fire department sit.
The city offices and public safety operations are between Center Street and 100 South and 300 West and 500 West. The Covey Center, which is on the 400 West block, would remain though possibly with some exterior changes. Off-street parking would be hidden and surrounded by buildings so that no one has an office or condo facing a parking lot. And as for 100 South — which has decreased traffic now that it’s not a through street to University Avenue — the north curb could be moved to make for a wider pedestrian area and a narrower street, bike traffic could be moved into the regular traffic lanes and “living rooms” or small parks could be built along the street to encourage walking.
These proposals came from a a task force organized by the city to study the issues, and the task force set up public meetings to get input from residents about the plan.
Paul Glauser, the city’s redevelopment agency director, said the key considerations in choosing a master developer for the city center project are financing and design sensitivity to the rest of downtown. He said Center Street was built one building at a time, by different people, and that contributes to the character and detail of storefronts. The plan is for the city center to be rebuilt by one developer, but with the same attention to detail as the rest of downtown.
That attention to detail should include a “legacy civic building,” like the Provo Tabernacle or Historic Utah County Courthouse, he said. “The feeling is if the city center stays here it needs to have that kind of impact and lasting quality.”
However, Provo Councilman Gary Winterton said the current city office building was meant to be a legacy building. “It was an icon when they built it,” he said.
Another challenge? Financing.
Winterton and Councilwoman Kim Santiago brought up the city’s budget, the upcoming school district bond and other capital projects in need in the city, like a new public works and fleet facility.
Councilman Stephen Hales, who served on the task force, said the city block is so valuable that the city can get a new building cost effectively or through a lease agreement with a developer.