Dirty Bird, Wimpy & Fritz close to opening, Riverbend area gaining steam
Tim Vandenack, Standard-Examiner
OGDEN — The ongoing expansion in the Riverbend area around the Ogden River west of Washington Boulevard is reaching a milestone — the two new restaurants taking shape as part of the project are on the verge of opening.
Dirty Bird has scheduled its grand opening for Sept. 10 while Wimpy & Fritz, which will share a building with the chicken sandwich-maker, was to reveal its opening plans on Friday. Wimpy & Fritz offers tacos.
Moreover, city officials have agreed to provide the developer of the 4.5-acre site, Salt Lake City-based Lotus Company, with $1.4 million in tax incentive funding to aid in development. Aside from the building housing the two new eateries plus the existing Ogden River Brewing beer-packaging operation, Lotus is to build 70 to 72 new townhomes. Thirty are now taking shape on the south side of the Ogden River just west of the new restaurant building while 40 to 42 more are to be built north of the river on vacant land just west of Washington Boulevard.
Some have wondered how the area, which can already get crowded with cars, will handle the likely uptick in auto traffic brought on by the opening of Dirty Bird and Wimpy & Fritz. Ogden River Brewing operates a restaurant just to the north while Slackwater, Bingham Cyclery and Utah Running Shop share another building just to the east.
Brandon Cooper, deputy director of community and economic development for the City of Ogden, acknowledged the heavy traffic along Park Boulevard during “peak hours.” Park Boulevard is the east-west street south of the Ogden River that gives access to Slackwater, Ogden River Brewing and the site shared by Dirty Bird and Wimpy & Fritz.
Tim Vandenack, Standard-Examiner
But he thinks the existing infrastructure is sufficient. The 30 townhomes taking shape will each have two-car garages, he noted. Some diners, though, may have have to park further west along Park Boulevard or along Grant Avenue.
The new Lotus Development plans are part of a larger development scheme in the 60-acre Riverbend area. The zone, already partially developed, goes from 18th to 20th streets on the north and south and Washington Boulevard and Wall Avenue on the east and west.
‘JUST SUPER STOKED’
In unanimously approving the $1.4 million tax incentive plan for Lotus Company on Aug. 17, the Ogden Redevelopment Agency, consisting of Ogden City Council members, said little about the plans. Work on the 30 townhomes and commercial building started ratcheting up earlier this year and the overall project has a price tag of $19 million to $20 million, according to Cooper.
However, one City Council member, Luis Lopez, had questions about the practice of providing developers with property tax incentive funding. The $1.4 million will come from property taxes on the property generated by its increased value brought on by the development.
“Are we ever going to be in a place where we don’t have to do these anymore?” asked Lopez. Cooper said he didn’t think the city would ever move completely away from them, citing the importance of staying competitive with other locales that also use incentives to lure development.
Here are more plans on the new development:
Dirty Bird: Spencer Schwen, operations manager for Dirty Bird, now operating a location in Provo, said the grand opening of the new Ogden site, the second for Dirty Bird, will be Sept. 10. “Just super stoked about joining the community up there,” he said. The locale offers “Nashville-inspired” chicken sandwiches.
Dirty Bird is part of The McHenry Group out of Salt Lake City, but company officials announced this week that a majority stake would be sold to Wags Capital. Wags plans to invest some $20 million to open up to 30 new Dirty Bird locations over the next 14 months, according to Nation’s Restaurant News, a trade publication.
Wimpy & Fritz: The opening of the taco eatery seems imminent. Schwen said it would open the same day as Dirty Bird.
However, in a Facebook post Thursday, Wimpy & Fritz said only that a formal announcement would be coming Friday. A rep for the locale couldn’t immediately be reached Thursday. “Thank you all for the support we can’t wait to open the doors,” said the post.
Wimpy & Fritz has operated a food truck and offered food at The Yes Hell, an Ogden bar.
Townhomes: The 30 townhomes on the south side of the Ogden River are taking shape and are to be largely done by the end of the year, per the accord to get the $1.4 million in tax incentives. The entire project, including the 40 to 42 townhomes on the north side of the river, is to be done by Dec. 31, 2022.
The 40 to 42 townhomes are to be built south of the site of the planned new Mountain America Credit Union building, a separate project. Dirt has yet to move for the townhomes on the north side of the Ogden River, but Cooper said developers are now getting the city approvals needed to proceed.
Mountain America, he said, is anxious to get moving on its plans at the site of the old Ogden River Inn. An issue over placement of a billboard on the land, which had slowed the process, has been resolved.