OGDEN — The city hopes giving a $100,000 boost to a local developer will stimulate growth and remove a large patch of urban blight from Washington Boulevard.
Ogden’s Economic Development Department has negotiated a deal for the redevelopment of about 0.85 acres at the southwest corner of 17th Street and Washington Boulevard.
The site has been home to the old Pepsi bottling warehouse and most recently an indoor skate park. The buildings at the site are now vacant and have become dilapidated, leaving an eyesore at the gateway to Ogden’s Riverbend development and downtown area.
The proposed project at 17th Street calls for all the existing buildings from Perry Street to 17th to be demolished and new retail buildings to be built in their place.
The first of the new tenants would be a 7-Eleven convenience store.
Additional tenants and buildings will be built at an unknown future date, the city says.
As part of the deal, the city would appropriate $100,000 to the Wright Development Group, LLC, which would purchase the land from current owner, B&N Properties. Wright would then lease the land to 7-Eleven.
Wright would also be responsible for demolishing all of the vacant buildings and removing all of the other blighted aspects of the property.
The $100,000 incentive, which would help pay for pre-construction costs, would come from the city’s general fund and be paid to Wright over a period from 2014 to 2019.
Brandon Cooper, senior project manager for Ogden, said the project will provide many benefits to the city beyond just the removal of the old, rundown buildings, which the city estimates would cost more than $300,000.
Ogden’s Economic Development Department estimates the project will increase sales tax, increase property values and property tax, create 30 to 50 temporary construction jobs and eight to 12 permanent jobs, and will serve as a catalyst for additional development.
The proposed budget for the project shows that actual revenues to the city over the five-year reimbursement period will be approximately $96,000, meaning the demolition of the vacant buildings and removal of blight is essentially free to the city.
The city council has to approve the deal before the project can move forward, and several council members have expressed concerns with it.
Council members have wondered if a 7-Eleven really fits with the city’s vision for the area and if a convenience store is the best development catalyst.
But Cooper and Ogden city planning manager Greg Montgomery said the proposed 7-Eleven will be designed differently from most of the company’s stores and include landscaping requirements.
“It will be a more modern styling, similar to the Bingham Cyclery,” Montgomery said. “It ties into some of the architectural things we are trying to accomplish.”
Council members also have concerns with city money benefiting the property’s current owner, B&N Properties, which hasn’t paid property taxes in two years.
In a recent council work session, Councilwomen Susan Van Hooser and Amy Wicks each voiced concerns that the deal would essentially be benefiting B&N.
But Tom Christopulos, Ogden’s director of community and economic development, said it’s still a major benefit to the city even though the delinquent B&N could benefit from the deal.
“This is an issue of the greater good for Ogden,” he said.
“If we don’t do this, the current owner is still there and we are still left with all the blight.”