City of Provo begins downtown update

Provo City is working on a new plan to continue improving the city’s downtown area. The last Downtown Area Plan was approved in 2015. (Preston Crawley)

Provo’s Downtown Master Plan is in the process of a facelift after the last one was approved in 2015. Provo City is leading this charge to continue to rejuvenate downtown Provo.

To begin the process of creating the new master plan, Provo shared a survey with residents asking about areas for improvement. Some of the questions on the survey asked what locals like to do downtown and what they felt was missing.

According to a map from the open house survey, downtown Provo is larger than many might think — it is more than just Center Street. Downtown Provo includes neighborhoods such as North Park, Joaquin, Timp and Franklin.

The Provo Community and Neighborhood Services website calls the Downtown Master Plan, “one of Provo’s most successful plans to date.”

Provo City planner Hannah Salzl said these master plans are short-term and “only look five to seven years in the future.”

In the first open house to discuss the master plan, Salzl said they hope to have a draft of the new master plan by early next year. The goal of the new plan is to act as a vision for how Provo’s future will look. It gives direction and continues to promote the best quality of life, she said.

One aspect that stands out to Quinn Peterson, executive director of Downtown Provo Inc., is the improvement in residential areas. Peterson discussed the benefits that have come from the addition of these residential units and said he feels they are responsible for how well the downtown space has blossomed. 

The residential sector has contributed to the downtown area because it now has “more activity at night, more walkability and more support and sustainability for restaurants and other businesses,” Peterson said. 

Robert Mills, the planning supervisor for Provo, agrees that the housing options have been beneficial to the downtown community. The growth in the downtown area offers “great opportunities for businesses and benefits restaurants,” he said.

Mills highlighted the housing downtown because of the easy access to public transportation and how much there is within walking distance.

Walking is an important aspect of downtown life. However, “walking can be ableist,” Salzl said. In the updated master plan, Salzl said she hopes Provo City can work on making downtown safer for pedestrians and bicyclists while still making sure it’s accessible to everybody.

In order to make downtown more beneficial to residents, the city uses “working groups” while creating new plans to receive more feedback in the process, Salzl said. The working group is a diverse class of residents the city works with to create goals for the updates, she said.

“We would love for some students to be part of it as well because the student experience of downtown is different from other demographics,” Salzl said.

Mills described the working group as a “great barometer” because they bring their different thoughts and backgrounds.

Readers interested in joining this working group and sharing ideas with the city can email Salzl at .

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