NORTH OGDEN -- Business is growing in North Ogden, literally. Walker Cinemas is installing a new theater sign that is nearly four times the size of signs allowed by the city's old sign ordinance.
The sign is allowed by the city's new Entertainment Overlay Zone, which runs along Washington Boulevard from the city limits on the south to about 2100 North. The zone can be expanded to cover other areas as the city council sees fit, said Community Development Director Craig Barker.
Barker and business owners see the big sign going up as a sign that times are changing for local business.
Kerry Walker, owner of what he calls a "family-friendly" theaters in North Ogden, is thrilled to be putting the sign up. It is almost exactly the same as his theater sign at his Perry theater. The company also has theaters in Brigham City and Logan.
He just wishes the North Ogden sign could have been put up sooner.
"It took a while. It took longer than I thought it would," he said.
He said he understands that the city was trying to go about the changes in a way that would satisfy everyone.
Walker asked to have the bigger sign at least a year and a half ago when he added two stadium seating theaters to his complex, but had to wait while the city council and planning commission figured out how to change the ordinance.
Barker said the process to make such sweeping sign changes is a necessary.
He believe that the new entertainment zone and bigger sign might lure other businesses to the city.
"It might attract someone once they check the markets here," Barker said.
He noted that one of the important things that have come out of the sign revision are the many choices businesses have for signs now.
"Now there are five different sign choices," Barker said.
Before, business owners were allowed only one small monument sign, which Walker believes presented a danger to Washington Boulevard traffic.
He felt that many didn't see his theater because it is set back off the road. If drivers tried to look at movies or movie times, they were taking their eyes off the road for too long.
Shawn Maynard, chairman of the North Ogden Business Alliance, agreed.
"The old ordinance was contradicting and made it less safe," Maynard said. He is thrilled with Walker's sign and sees it as a bright light for future business in the city.
Maynard owns the North Ogden Cannery and Bullfrog Spa business and has been working with the city's economic development committee for a couple of years to help make the city more business-friendly.
"I think they are starting to send this message out that, 'Hey we are business-friendly,' " Maynard said.
Walker knows that North Ogden is known as a bedroom community of Ogden or Salt Lake City, but there can still be business here.
He also wants people who live in Ogden to have a reason to come to North Ogden.
He chooses to keep theater admission and concession prices lower to give people a reason to come to North Ogden.
Now, with his bigger sign, he hopes some more restaurants and other businesses will see that business can be good there.
Barker thinks that will happen.
The entertainment overlay zone can offer incentives to potential businesses, such as bigger signs, mixed use or advertising advantages.
Because North Ogden has been thought to be a bedroom community, business was hushed, Maynard said.
"Before it was like if you come to do business, you have to hide, now it is getting to be extremely on the other side," Maynard said.
Barker said the city has loosened tremendously on its advertising display ordinances in addition to sign changes.
The staff did a study last year asking residents what they wanted as far as businesses and overwhelmingly residents said they wanted more business choices.
Maynard thinks that was a wake-up call for the city and that huge strides have been made, but more needs to happen.
He is confident it will. Business owners are now feeling included in city issues and are showing everyone else they are open for business.