OGDEN -- The millions of dollars invested in the Ogden River Parkway have drastically changed the feel of the river and its surrounding area, but one eyesore left over from before the cleanup has steadfastly remained -- until now.
Ogden residents Ben and Tasha Henry, Gerald Broad and Dustin Nelson are in the process of renovating the old Northern/Southern X-posure nightclub at 1847 Wall Ave.
The group plans to turn the building, which sits on the Ogden River at the very heart of the parkway, into a CrossFit gym.
CrossFit is a national strength and conditioning franchise with independent gym owners.
The program is a varied, high-intensity workout, focusing on functional movements and overall fitness and athleticism.
The new Ogden gym will have all the equipment usually seen in a normal CrossFit gym -- pull-up bars, free weights, ropes, rowing machines, kettlebells, medicine balls and gymnastic rings -- but will also feature a football program headed by former NFL and Brigham Young University tight end Daniel Coats and about 40 yards of indoor turf for sprinting exercises.
The partners currently have a three-year lease on the building with an option to buy, and they say they plan to eventually do so.
Broad and Henry said they had been looking into opening a CrossFit facility for some time, but when the Exposure building became available, they had to act -- not only because it's a good business opportunity, but also because it's a chance to improve the community where they live.
"We think it's the perfect location," Henry said. "It's right on Wall Avenue, so we have a lot of visibility, but we're also right next to the river and the parkway. But even more than that, you've had this smutty little place on the parkway that never went away, even after it closed. Well, it's going to be gone now, and we think that's good for Ogden."
Ogden city officials seem to agree.
The city recently spent more than $6 million to restore the Ogden River, and work continues on the Ogden Riverbend Project, a mixed-use development planned to encompass 60 acres straddling the river from 18th Street to 20th Street and Washington Boulevard to Wall Avenue.
"I think (the new gym) is kind of symbolic of what we've done with the river property and what we want to do in the future," said Mayor Mike Caldwell, who is an avid CrossFitter himself.
Sara Toliver, president of Ogden/Weber Convention and Visitors Bureau, said her office is also pleased.
"We're thrilled with it," she said. "Our job is to bring visitors to the city, and we think this will help. You've had all this continued development along the parkway, but this building has remained, and it's been an eyesore."
Broad said the group already has about 50 people committed to join the gym when it opens Feb. 16.
"We excited to get this thing started," he said. "We're going to have something for everybody.
Tasha Henry said the group also plans to work with local groups, such as Youth Impact, to provide after- school activities for Ogden youths that focus on fitness.