Ogden City administration looking to deregulate downtown housing

Wednesday , January 03, 2018 - 5:00 AM

MITCH SHAW, Standard-Examiner Staff

OGDEN — The Ogden City administration wants people to live downtown.

Their thinking is this: The denser the downtown population is, the better the economy will do — because people are more likely to frequent businesses when they live close to them.

So, a large number of permanent residents downtown increases the chance of businesses flourishing, vacant buildings becoming occupied, crime decreasing and property tax revenues growing. 

RELATED: Ogden City hopes new downtown apartments will help push neighborhood’s economy

“It’s something you’re going to see from just about every major city along the Wasatch Front,” Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell said. “As (Utah’s) population continues to grow, we’re going to have to adapt and change some of the ways we’ve traditionally done things.” 

The Governor's Office of Economic Development predicts Utah’s population will double from its current population of just over 3 million by 2060. Caldwell says downtown living will be a necessity under that scenario. 

In his estimation, a vibrant downtown with a steady, centralized population will also reduce road congestion and greatly reduce costs associated with municipal services — sewer, water, garbage, roads, emergency services and others.

“When you’re spreading those things out over a large (geographical) area, it becomes a lot more expensive,” the mayor said.

With all of this in mind, the city’s redevelopment agency has made a proposal to remove housing density restrictions currently imposed downtown.

RELATED: New apartment complex will be built at Ogden's Riverbend

The city’s central business district ordinance (the district runs from 20th to 27th streets between Wall and Adams avenues) regulates the maximum density of residential units there, based on of the size of the individual property.

As an example, a 10,000-square-foot lot is currently allowed a maximum of eight individual living units.

A petition from Brandon Cooper, Ogden’s deputy director of Community & Economic Development, calls to change the ordinance, doing away with the density restrictions.

For existing buildings, a parking facility would be required within 500 feet of the property. For new construction, parking facilities must be located on the same property as the building.

According to planning commission documents, the central business district ordinance does not have limitations for building heights, aside from Historic 25th Street. So if the proposal is approved, there would be no limit to how many residential units could be placed on a single property, as long as the parking requirements are fulfilled.

The petition will be reviewed by the city planning commission this week. The city’s planning staff has recommended the change be approved and the proposal likely will be voted on by the city council later this year.

The city’s General Plan calls for 4,700 new residential units in Ogden.

You can reach reporter Mitch Shaw at mishaw@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @mitchshaw23 or like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/MitchShaw.StandardExaminer.

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