PROVO — Anticipation is growing in Provo as the long-awaited public open house of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ new temple in Provo is now less than three months away.
The city is bracing for a stream of 900,000 people expected to visit the new temple during the open house, averaging 20,000 people a day during the 54 days the public is welcome inside.
The public open house begins Jan. 15, 2016, and runs through March 5. The LDS Church will start accepting online reservations beginning Jan. 4.
The Provo City Center Temple will be dedicated on Sunday, March 20, 2016.
Aerial footage shows the Provo City Center Temple is nearly complete, along with the detailed landscape work on the grounds. Interest is very high for what has become a new landmark in downtown Provo, built from the shell of the Provo Tabernacle.
“We think it will be a great asset to the community,” said Wayne Parker of Provo. “The tabernacle was too, but I think the temple creates a new vibe.”
The tabernacle, which opened in 1898, was 112 years old when it burned in December 2010.
Church leaders broke ground for construction of the new temple on May 12, 2012. Then the project became even more interesting.
After work crews removed two of the exterior's five layers of brick, they stabilized the shell by placing steel ties around the remaining three rows and inserting a concrete wall on the inside of the brick.
Then, for months, the 7-million-pound tabernacle shell stood on 40-foot-high steel stilts while workers excavated the ground underneath for two underground levels of the temple and an underground parking garage.
Once that was done, crowds gathered in March 2014 to watch workers place the traditional statue of the Angel Moroni on top of the temple's tower.
The city has been working for months to develop a plan to help welcome open house visitors to Provo.
“(Having) enough police officers and firefighters on duty, that we are keeping the sidewalks clear of snow and ice, and making it really easy for people to get around in the midst of a winter event like this” is a focus for city officials, Parker said.
Justin Williams is getting ready to open a new business near the temple, filling a void he sees in downtown Provo — an ice cream parlor.
“In the Utah culture, everybody loves their sweets and desserts,” Williams said. “So after a temple session or youth groups, hopefully people can come down and enjoy some freshly made ice cream from scratch.”
While downtown business alliance officials see new opportunities with the temple, they are preparing for some challenges during the open house. They have worked with the church on a parking plan by designating parking areas for open house visitors.
“The goal, of course, is to welcome about a million people to downtown and still keep those businesses operating and in business,” said Brady Curtis of Downtown Provo Inc.
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