Downtown Provo prepares for new temple

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The Provo City Temple is expected to bring thousands of visitors to downtown Provo during the open house early next year. City officials and local restaurants are working to prepare for the increased number of people sure to flood the streets of downtown Provo during those two months.

9 Late 2015
The Provo City Temple is nearing completion and will hold an open house in early 2016. Provo City and local businesses stand to benefit from this new temple. (ldstemples.org)

It is anticipated that around 800,000 people will visit the new temple during the open house, which is scheduled to take place Jan. 15 – Mar. 5 2016. This translates to around 20,000 people visiting the downtown area every day, a large number, but one that city officials believe they can handle.

“The city has created an interagency working group to help prepare for the events associated with the temple open house,” Provo City Chief Administrative Officer Wayne Parker said in an email.

Provo City has to prepare for mobile vendors, protestors and potential snow and ice removal. Another potential issue for visitors and businesses is the limited parking in the downtown area.

Working with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the city has identified 1,600 parking spots within three blocks of the temple. When individuals reserve tickets for the open house they will be assigned to a specific parking lot. This will help keep parking in front of businesses open for customers.

The new temple is expected to bring a lot of business to the downtown area and will help stimulate the local economy.

“We believe that additional redevelopment in downtown Provo will follow as the temple increases property values and adds a new dimension of strength to downtown,” Parker said.

Downtown restaurants are especially excited for the temple open house and expect it to have a positive influence on their business.

A group of people eat at Rocco's Tacos on Center Street in Provo on a summer evening. Photo by Chris Bunker
A group eats outside some restaurants on Provo’s Center Street. Many downtown restaurants are preparing for the increased crowds that the new Provo City Center Temple open house will bring. (Chris Bunker)

“Whenever you have people walking your streets, it’s a net positive,” said Brady Curtis, the executive director of Downtown Provo, Inc.

Curtis is working with local restaurants to attract business and make the most of crowds that the new temple will draw. Many restaurants are preparing special rates for temple visitors, especially reaching out to those with families.

“It will hopefully bring in business and make downtown better,” said Rachel Witham, a manager at the Los Hermanos restaurant.

Rockwell Ice Cream Co. is a brand new ice cream parlor opening up down the street from the temple, and owner Justin Williams hopes to benefit from the crowds as well.

“It’s going to be great having all these groups and youth groups coming in,” Williams said, “Hopefully it’s good for everybody.”

However, not all businesses stand to benefit economically from the new temple. Owner of Mama Z’s Food Truck Karen Zimbelman doesn’t think much of the new business will spread to the food trucks.

“Those going to the temple open house or the temple will probably lean towards going to a brick and mortar restaurant if they want to go out to eat after attending the temple,” Zimbelman wrote in an email.

Provo City has regulations in place that stop food trucks from selling food in the main street area and temple visitors would have to travel to the food trucks putting these trucks at a disadvantage.

Overall the new temple is expected to have an economically positive impact on downtown Provo as tourism in the area increases.

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