Emily Buckley, editor in chief
When Holly Daines first ran for mayor of Logan City in 2017, the revitalization of downtown Logan was part of her campaign. In her time as Mayor, she has stayed dedicated to her campaign promises and helped breathe new life into the charming, historic stretch that is the heart of Cache Valley.
The Path to Revitalization
“We are blessed to have beautiful historic buildings in downtown Logan with Ellen Eccles Theatre, the tabernacle, and the courthouse,” Mayor Daines said. “There are still many other significant buildings in the historic district, but there were also many which were vacant and run down, and there wasn’t a lot of activity in the evening after many businesses closed at 5 or 6 p.m.”
Mayor Daines and the Logan City Council adopted Roger Brooks’ list of “The Top 20 Ingredients of an Outstanding Downtown” as their guiding principles for revitalization and embarked on a comprehensive plan. The first step was a complete revamp of Center Street, from Main Street to 100 West. This was a collaborative effort between the city and business owners. The project emphasized pedestrian friendliness, wider sidewalks, and improved infrastructure, all to enhance the overall atmosphere.
The final touch was to raise funds for the Center Street Archway, which creates a sense of place for the historic district. Cache Valley Bank donated most of the funds for the archway, and local architect Christian Wilson contributed the design work.
Following the success of Center Street, the group designed a plan to demolish the former Emporium building to create a downtown plaza. The city has also provided facade grants to businesses to improve the exterior of their buildings.
“Research shows if a plaza is active, with lots going on, it is a great draw for citizens and tourists alike,” Mayor Daines said. “In this day of Amazon, you can get almost anything delivered to your doorstep very quickly. The things people are looking for that Amazon can’t provide are dining or entertainment experiences, an activity, or a lovely place to hang out.”
The Vision for the Carol and Jim Laub Plaza
The Carol and Jim Laub Plaza serves a broader purpose than just being a public space. It embodies a vision to create a vibrant gathering place that fosters a sense of community and enhances the overall aesthetic appeal of the downtown area.
The plaza officially opened at a ribbon cutting ceremony on September 23, 2023, marking a historic moment in Logan’s journey toward downtown revitalization.
This holiday season, the plaza is set to host an array of festive events beginning the Saturday after Thanksgiving, November 25, when the skating rink will open, coinciding with the Center Street Christmas Parade. This special occasion will feature the unveiling of Bluebird Candy’s holiday window displays, live music, a tree lighting ceremony, visits with Santa on the plaza stage, fireworks, and much more. Integration into Downtown Activities The vision for the Carol and Jim Laub Plaza aligns seamlessly with the objectives of other downtown businesses and stakeholders. Local business owners on Center Street are enthusiastic about hosting events in the plaza and collaborating to enhance the area’s vibrancy. An example of this collaboration is a generous $10,000 donation from a local business owner to sponsor a mid-week concert series on the plaza stage next summer.
Key Players in Making it Happen
The journey to create the plaza wouldn’t have been possible without the generosity and support of various individuals and organizations. The Laub Family Foundation deserves special recognition for donating over $1 million. Cache Valley Electric sponsored the skating rink. Several other donors, including Cache County (through the RAPZ tax and the Cache Valley Visitors Bureau), the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, the Emma Eccles Jones Foundation, Bruce Bugbee and Diana West, Kookie Tanner, the Measom Family Foundation, and Julie and Brett Hugie played a crucial role in raising a total of $2,360,000 for the plaza and its amenities.
“We are so grateful for these contributions,” Mayor Daines said.
Impact on Local Businesses
The success of Center Street’s revitalization serves as a testament to the positive impact of these improvements. The vibrant and pedestrian-friendly environment has attracted both new businesses and patrons. Locals and visitors are drawn to downtown Logan.
“I talked to a young professional who recently graduated from Utah State University,” Mayor Daines said. “She grew up in the Valley but never used to come downtown. Now, she and her friends love to come downtown. In her words, ‘Downtown has a vibe!’”
Parking and Accessibility
Despite growing popularity, downtown Logan offers ample parking options within a short walking distance. While parking spaces near businesses may be limited, the city’s focus on walkability and pedestrian-friendly streets aims to make the stroll to your destination enjoyable. The recently redone mid-block sidewalk and the revamped parking lot behind the plaza are expected to accommodate the increased foot traffic.
“There is nothing worse than empty parking lots,” Mayor Daines said. “That means there’s no one downtown. We hope the parking lots will be full with people enjoying the restaurants, businesses, and amenities downtown.”
Skating Rink and Splash Pad
The skating rink at the plaza will offer rental skates, ensuring everyone can enjoy the winter wonderland. During the summer, the plaza will offer a splash pad, operational from about Memorial Day to Labor Day.
What Lies Ahead
As the Carol and Jim Laub Plaza flourishes, Logan’s downtown revitalization efforts show no signs of slowing down. The next major project on the horizon is the new Logan Library, set to open with a ribbon-cutting ceremony in January. The library project received significant community support, totaling $1,500,000 in donations, including $1 million from the Hansen Sisters Foundation for the children’s area of the library, as well as from the Willie Family Foundation, Cache Valley Bank, Cytiva, and former Mayor Craig Peterson and his wife, Maradee. Downtown Logan is not just a physical space but a symbol of Logan’s commitment to fostering community, enhancing infrastructure, and celebrating our Valley’s rich history. With an array of events and a continued focus on collaboration and improvement, the plaza promises to be a cornerstone of Logan’s growth and vitality for years to come.