Downtown Ogden continues welcoming visitors by building tourist infrastructure

Jul 17 2009 - 11:18pm

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(ROBERT JOHNSON/Standard-Examiner) The new Ogden Welcome Center sign at the FrontRunner Station in Ogden.
(ROBERT JOHNSON/Standard-Examiner) The new Ogden Welcome Center sign at the FrontRunner Station in Ogden.

OGDEN -- Ogden wants visitors to the city to feel very welcome.

Just as the FrontRunner station welcome center and Choo-Choo's Kafe and Deli, 2325 Wall Ave., adds finishing touches, a second welcome center is preparing to open at the corner of 25th Street and Washington Boulevard.

This venture is headed by Downtown Ogden Inc., said employee Peter Barrera, local entrepreneur.

"In my personal opinion, Ogden's biggest hurdle is we don't have tourist infrastructure," Barrera said.

"We have the stuff to bring them here, but we don't have the infrastructure."

The two centers aren't competing, though, said John Patterson, Ogden chief administrative officer.

They are pleased to see anything that makes the city more visitor-friendly.

Jeanie Milne, owner of Choo-Choo's, said she is working with Trudy Soland, who will be operating the 25th Street center.

"I have all the tools and tours to get them on their way and then she (Soland) can give them information for the merchants for that part of town," Milne said.

Choo-Choo's sits at the base of the FrontRunner station, and with the addition of signs and outside decorating is now ready to direct visitors to various Ogden sites, Patterson said.

The modified rail car features a rack of brochures about Ogden attractions and a touch-screen computer, where visitors can browse things to do in the city and then print out directions and an itinerary, he said.

Milne said she was surprised by the variety of people coming in for information.

A few groups from Europe have visited and with the UTA FrontRunner deal of four people for $10 between Salt Lake City and Ogden, Milne said, several families from the capital have made day trips to Ogden.

But it's important to remember that not everybody is traveling by train, Barrera said.

Many visitors are driving, and Washington Boulevard is an ideal place to catch those who come downtown.

That center will feature food items such as ice cream, sandwiches and pastries, Barrera said.

It will also sell Ogden merchandise and plans to work in conjunction with the Ogden Bicycle Collective to provide inexpensive bike rentals.

Downtown Ogden Inc. also plans to sell tickets for local businesses that choose to work with it.

The hope, Barrera said, is that visitors can plan their visit and buy tickets to shows or ski lift tickets at the same place.

"We want to provide walking tours. We want to create an outdoor lifestyle, because we don't have much of that," Barrera said.

He said the welcome center is planning to open in the next two weeks.

"It's all about making Ogden a more tourist- and visitor-friendly city," Patterson said.

He said people from other FrontRunner stations have come to look at the welcome center to see if they want to implement something similar.

Ogden's station is the best, he said, because it has pizzazz and is within walking distance of downtown.

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