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LDS Church begins MTC expansion

PROVO — Work crews have started pulling down some of the canopies around the east wing of the Jacob Hamblin Building at the Missionary Training Center.

It will be two weeks before demolition of the one-story structure on the MTC campus, located at 900 East and Stadium Avenue, begins in earnest.

"We're going to clear the site for about a week or so, then I'm guessing in two weeks we'll have a track hoe in and some trucks for hauling the building away," said Brian Webb, project manager for Okland Construction.

Over the course of the next 16 months, the single-story portion of the building on the north end of the MTC campus will be razed and replaced with a three-story, 40,455-square-foot building that will consolidate mail services, clothing assistance, a bookstore, medical and clinical services, a copy center, a maintenance shop and receiving for the up to 4,000 LDS Church missionaries who spend up to two months at the MTC receiving language and religious training.

The building will include office space and more than 30 senior residence rooms on the third floor.

"The plans I've seen include maybe 30 rooms along the perimeter of the building and a handful on the inside as well," Webb said.

According to the Provo City Planning Commission staff report, the project is part of a 10-year remodeling plan for the MTC, which started three years ago.

Plans for the new building, which will replace maintenance and office space, are still working their way through the Provo City planning department, although preliminary approval was given for the construction on Feb. 10.

"They got their demolition permit last week," Provo city planner Nathan Murray said. "Now it's just a matter of getting everyone to sign the final plan and issue a building permit."

That should happen later this week, he said.

When the remodeling was first announced, neighbors expressed concern that concentrating the various MTC services in one building would increase traffic along Stadium Avenue, a residential street that borders the north side of the MTC and runs downhill past LaVell Edwards Stadium.

In two public hearings in January, residents expressed concerns that delivery trucks were using a gate in the parking lot of the LDS meetinghouse at 650 E. Stadium Avenue with increasing frequency, putting too much traffic on a narrow residential street that lacks curb, gutter and sidewalk in many areas.

As a result, MTC officials altered traffic routes for many of the deliveries, promising to use entrances on University Parkway and 900 East, major arterial roads, for the approximately 70 panel-truck deliveries made to the MTC daily. That would keep traffic away from Stadium Avenue and 650 East.

The church parking lot gate will get extensive use, however, throughout the construction of the new addition.

A Jan. 28 report from R. Paul Evans, chairman of the Pleasant View Neighborhood, which borders the MTC, said neighbors' concerns had been answered and resolved.

Al Roberts, whose home is the closest residence, 300 feet from the new construction, said he was thrilled to see the MTC grow.

"It's wonderful," he said. "They are good neighbors."

e-mail: mhaddock@desnews.com