Saturday, January 24, 2009

Having grown up in the Provo/Orem area, I've seen a lot of nice things bulldozed in the name of progress.  Fields where horses grazed have become subdivisions with stupid names like Canyon Valley, Valley Vista, and Vista Canyon.  (I sometimes wonder if there isn't a pair of dice in some developers office, each with six realty buzzwords on them, and by shaking them the subdivisions are named.)

There used to be an old wooden barn on Canyon Road next to the fire station.  In days gone by it was a fruit and vegetable stand.  Now it's becoming a stucco-covered series of McMansions. What is it with stucco?  Don't people realize that it's the biggest copout of all exterior finishes? Don't get me wrong; if you want your home to look like a sumo wrestler ate a bag of clay and shat all over your house, go ahead and stucco.  

There used to be irrigation canals that cut through wooded areas.  Their water rippled with mystery.  Lazy summer days were spent daydreaming near the water.  There were rope swings suspended by tall trees, and there were plenty of old farm buildings, presumably full of classic cars and relics of brighter days.

Now those things are gone.  We've made progress as a society.  We don't need silly things like rope swings or yards anymore.  We just need really big houses on really tiny lots.  We need artificially antiqued furnishings and three car garages.  We've torn down everything rustic, and erected in it's place our personal temples, decorated with brand-new, rustic-styled artifacts made in China and purchased with credit cards.

But the very most unbelievably, amazingly, catastrophically stupid example of this trend is a place I affectionately call the Midtown Monstrosity.  Granted, I wasn't a fan of the trailer park it displaced, but in a situation where almost any change would have been an improvement, they managed to make things worse.

The first thing they built when the project began was a small white tower.  It looks like somebody cut off the top of the Timpanogos temple.  I call it the Temple of Wanton Consumerism.

Above: the best picture I could steal from the intertubes.  You get the idea.  I keep waiting for them to place a golden statue of a woman holding shopping bags on the top.

On either side of the "temple" is a huge complex of condominiums and retail space.  One of them is pretty much complete.  The other is still a mess.  According to The Daily Herald only four of the condos were sold, and as a result, the developer was unable to pay the contractors and construction was halted.  This is shocking considering that the condos were priced at just  $325,000 to 1.4 million.  That's really a bargain when you consider you would get to live on State Street in Orem, upon the same prestigious acreage where mobile homes once freely roamed.

The most baffling part of the whole thing is that a bunch of people must have thought this was a good idea for the project to get as far as it did.  In spite of the fact that similar projects nearby were struggling to sell their condos and keep the retail spaces leased, this $100 million dollar disaster got the green light.

Currently, there's only one tenant in the entire place.  It's a business called Pizzeria 712, and by all accounts the food is excellent.  One of these days I'm going to go try it.  Right now though, money's tight.  I might have to wait until my new business takes off.  I'm putting one of my other talents to good use on a new venture.  Anybody know where I can buy some clay? 


b. said...

are you going to write about that big ugly unfinished thing on state street in Orem?

LifeLightning said...

When i was growing up there was a apple orchard behind our back yard. There were always birds and it was nice.
The years past. They plowed the orchard and put in house.
Luckily the quiet was replaced with a crazy neighbor who would vacuum at midnight with their giant, built in vacuum system.
Wow. Our society has come a long ways in the last decade huh???

Kaerlig said...

I think I know where we can get some clay. Do you think it will pay?

b. said...

That's where I grew up...and it pisses me off every time I pass it!

The Calders said...

The Canyon road fruit stand wasn't the Stratton's is it? See I was born in Provo and would visit Orem every summer through my youth. In the 40's and 50's the orchard of my Dad's family couldn't support everyone.

My dad sold out his share and left for Washington. My uncle sold the orchard a few years ago, and it went for a LDS church and a subdivision. I am sure he did very well.

It was sad however, because my dad would have liked to have farmed it.

If you want no changes, you can live in my old neighborhood in Washington. You would love it.


AzĂșcar said...

That midtown thing is ridiculous. On principle it's not a bad idea to have mixed use development, however, the price range was OUTRAGEOUS. I see it as simple greed and nothing more. Those lots that are across Canyon Rd. from the firehouse? Rumor has it that they've been unable to sell even one (no big surprise when the smallest, most pathetic lot sells for 250k.)

Responsible development is a passion of mine, and I find so much of what we allow to happen to our fields, streams, rope swings, green space, and old buildings reprehensible.

Ashley Thalman said...

Don't get me fraking started. You want to build some horrid, good-for-nothing, "retail" dump nestled right in the boosoms of Orem BLVD and State street with a great view of two auto parts stores that is only but a hop, skip and a jump from the "R" editing shop that fell victim to the owners soliciting sexual favors from a minor. Whoa! Good luck!
And while your at it....lets talk about the back end of that place. Lopped off architectural wonder I tell you!