HUNTSVILLE -- After a meteoric rise in property values and real estate speculation in 2006, Ogden Valley has joined a growing list of communities waiting for the economy to turn.
A modern-day gold rush had out-of-state investors clamoring to the valley on the back of promises to strike it rich in real estate.
"People back east would hear about the market and start pooling their money to buy a house under construction, thinking that they would double their money as soon as it was finished," said Andy McCrady of Crest Realty in South Ogden. "To me, it was kind of almost ... a Ponzi scheme."
McCrady says the boom went along just fine until the market slowed, and now most of work he does in Ogden Valley is with financial institutions on foreclosures.
Another issue McCrady pointed to was that by the time all the paperwork had made its way through the permitting process, prices had dropped, putting landowners in an even tougher spot.
But Weber County officials also point to the economy as the primary driver for the valley's lack of building.
"It seemed like a lot of people were speculating while the market was good and now that it's not, it's kind of a ghost town as far as development goes," Sean Wilkinson of the Weber County Planning Division said. "There were a lot of subdivisions that were developed when the market was really good back in 2006 to 2008, but a lot of those have gone under and so there's a lot of developed land that's just sitting vacant at this point."
Wilkinson said the planning commission would like to see that developed land be utilized and become part of the community, but members believe it would take a big turnaround in the economy for development to continue.
"With the economy like it is, people just aren't going to move forward," he said.
Major commercial projects have been proposed at Ogden Valley ski resorts. Snowbasin is planning a commercial/residential project that straddles the border between Weber and Morgan counties, but that is some distance from most of the approved but uncompleted subdivisions.
A development agreement between Powder Mountain and Weber County is currently being processed. The agreement includes a memorandum of understanding that dictates future development and certain development-related rights for the resort while also requiring Powder Mountain to withdraw its petition to incorporate as a town, Wilkinson said.
While commercial development may someday see an upgrade from terrible to bad, residential development appears to be firmly rooted at downright dismal. Just ask Orluff Opheikens.
Owner of R&O Construction Company, Opheikens has owned and worked a subdivision of high-end homes in Eden called Eagle Ridge for the last 40 years.
He said in 1980 the valley faced a similar downturn that took 12 years to recover from. Then in the mid-2000s, buyers from California, Las Vegas and the East Coast were convinced Ogden Valley was going to become the next Park City. Home prices took off.
"Things just got hotter and hotter," Opheikens said. "Prices on our lots went from $80,000 to $300,000 in maybe two years."
Opheikens and his partners sold 32 lots and says every buyer told him they were going to build.
"The only person that built a home there is my partner," he said. "I have no idea today what the values are because there just is no market."
There are some winners in the whole situation, Opheikens says -- those collecting the taxes that were inflated after the prices skyrocketed.
Lots sitting empty in Ogden Valley right now doesn't surprise Opheikens. He points to markets across the country that are in the same condition.
Since he owns the property at Eagle Ridge, he's not losing sleep about getting houses built, but says that R&O Construction is primarily a commercial construction company, and that side of his business has suffered along with the rest of the country.
"I have people say to me, 'Do you think now is the time to build?' and I tell them that I wouldn't dare recommend anything right now," he said. "It's the opposite of what we want them to do but how can you feel confident with how things are going?"