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Provo City Council gets ideas from BYU team to meet state housing demands

By Genelle Pugmire - | Nov 15, 2022

Courtesy Provo city

Station Area Plan 1 along the University Parkway.

Each year, Provo and a team of students from Brigham Young University work on plans to help enhance the city and then present it to the City Council.

This year, the team worked with city planners to help implement the requirements the legislature put forward in HB 462, Housing Affordability Amendments, for station area plans.

Stations, or areas around bus and train hubs, are to be developed in a plan to provide four objectives by Dec. 31, 2025.

The four objectives are:

  • Increasing the availability and affordability of housing.
  • Promoting sustainable environmental conditions.
  • Enhancing access to opportunities.
  • Increasing transportation choices and connections.

There are 20 cities in Utah with FrontRunner, TRAX / Streetcar and Bus Rapid Transit Stations.

“The State Legislature passed HB462 which requires cities to create station area plans around UTA Frontrunner, TRAX and BRT lines,” said Javin Weaver, city planner. “Each Fall semester Provo City Planning collaborates with a class at Brigham Young University taught by Associate Professor Jamin Rowan to explore current planning projects and work together to find preliminary solutions. This semester the class focused on applying the requirements of HB462 to the required transit stations along UVX and Provo Frontrunner.”

Provo has a significant need for affordable housing. The student team indicated that the median household income in Provo is $50,072 while the median house is $440,000. A typical 20% down payment would equal $88,000 with a monthly mortgage of $2,200.

Rent is between $1,000 and $1,600 a month with a cost increase of 80% to 100% over the past five years.

The team addressed a few areas that are already in the building stages, including The Millrace by the Provo Station, The Mix on the University Parkway and other areas around University Avenue.

The University Avenue area should be transitional between the high-density options to the north and single-family homes to the south. This is according to the Joaquin Neighborhood Plan, which fits with the SAP requirements.

The BYU team suggested the area also take properties where old homes and buildings currently sit and make pocket neighborhoods, according to the Joaquin plan.

“Large parcels with aging buildings can be assembled and turned into groups of homes with a common yard,” the team wrote.

When it comes to having a sustainable environment, the students suggested incentivizing green buildings and adopting an eco-friendly building standard.

It was also suggested that the Joaquin area take part in the “Flip the Strip” initiative, which would take grassy berms off sidewalks and design them with indigenous plants, rocks and stones. They believe that would save 5,000 to 8,000 gallons of water a year.

Accessible opportunities should include language wayfinding signs at the intermodal hubs as one in seven speak a language other than English, with 15.7% of Provo residents speaking Spanish in the home.

Included in the suggested accessible opportunities was better maintenance and lighting for the College Connector trail along the University Parkway.

The BYU team also did a survey on why people take the bus in Provo. The reasonings given include:

  • Use for school – 23.1%
  • Use for work – 13.5%
  • Use for recreation – 21.2%
  • Use for daily living (groceries, healthcare, etc.) 42.3%
  • Other uses at less than 2% include hospital, exercise, shopping, religious worship and fun

The SAP will receive up to $5 million from the state with local matching dollars.

After the SAP is adopted with four areas, the city must complete two each year until the city is complete.

“We really appreciate collaborating with Dr. Rowan’s City Lab BYU class. For each of the last few fall semesters they have tackled a challenging planning issue and have informed our planning process,” said Brandon Larsen, long-range planner. “This year they have chosen to work on station area plans. We look forward to evaluating the thoughts they have for planning them.”

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