OGDEN — When developer Bryan Wrigley first set his sights on Ogden — more specifically, the Kiesel Building downtown — he wasn’t totally sure what he was getting into.

His main focus had been on projects in the Salt Lake City area. “We kind of came here not really sure of Ogden,” said Wrigley, founder and chief executive officer of the Lotus Company, his Salt Lake City-based development firm.

That was around 2015, and he’s since been sold on the city and the prospects here. Call him a convert to what he says is the passion and loyalty Ogden residents have toward their city. Beyond that, the city has some choice, wide open spaces that, as a developer, give him ample leeway to implement a vision.

“Ogden represents every developer’s dream,” said Wrigley, seated in a booth at Ogden River Brewing, at the center of another project Lotus is handling, the Riverbend development along the southern bank of the Ogden River west of Washington Boulevard.

Riverbend

A drawing showing the initial 30-unit Riverbend townhome development taking shape off the northeastern corner of Grant Avenue and Park Boulevard in Ogden The Ogden River Brewing building is depicted in the upper right-hand corner of the drawing with the Lotus Craft building that's to house Wimpy and Fritz and Dirty Bird below that.

As such, Lotus’s imprint in Ogden has expanded since the initial involvement in redeveloping the red-brick Kiesel Building at 2411 Kiesel Ave., a major undertaking. Aside from Riverbend, as the City of Ogden dubs it, a mixed-development of town homes anchored by Ogden River Brewing and a new structure that’ll house two new eateries, Lotus is working on a 118-unit housing plan along the Ogden River just west of the Walmart on Wall Avenue. The firm is also hoping to revamp the old Berthana Ballroom inside the building it owns adjacent to the Kiesel Building at 315 24th St., home to the Union Grill.

“It was a conscious decision. It was based on the passion in the city of Ogden,” said Wrigley, alluding to Lotus’ inroads here. The firm is “all in” here in Ogden “and we want to be part of the core fabric of the city.”

He contrasted the sort of development and vision Lotus is able to implement here versus the Salt Lake City-area. There, Lotus might be able to develop infill, a half-acre plot of land, say. Here, availability of space allows the firm to plan larger developments with more of an identity and sense of community.

The Riverbend development in the 300 block of Park Boulevard, west of Slackwater pub and pizzeria, for instance, calls for 30 town homes in the initial phase, a cluster dubbed Current by Lotus. The foundations of some of the units are in, with the first ones to become available by as early as the summer. On the eastern end of that town home cluster, the Lotus Craft Ogden Campus is taking shape, which will house taco restaurant Wimpy and Fritz along with Dirty Bird, a restaurant featuring fried chicken sandwiches. Sweet Talk, featuring ice cream, will double up inside the Dirty Bird locale while the northern end of the Lotus Craft structure will house a production and packaging operation for Ogden River Brewing’s craft beer. The building, just south of the main Ogden River Brewing location, is to be completed by June.

“Once capacity is expanded, we plan to begin distributing draft beer to on-premise accounts around Ogden and greater Northern Utah,” Lotus said in a statement to the Standard-Examiner. Beer also will be sold direct to the public to go at the location with eventual plans to distribute to grocery and convenience stores.

On part of the vacant land to the north across the Ogden River from the Lotus Craft building, Wrigley said Lotus hopes to develop as many as 40 more town homes. Lotus is also eyeing the vacant property just west of Grant Avenue, possibly for even more town homes.

The plan, the firm said in a statement to the Standard-Examiner, “is absolutely to turn the area into a true destination for the city, with Ogden River Brewing as the anchor.” The mix of housing types and food offerings plus the walkability of the area bodes for “an exciting alternative to 25th Street” that has a family-friendly appeal. Numerous town homes and the View on 20th apartment complex, built by other developers, already sit on the south side of Park Boulevard in the area.

West along the Ogden River across Wall Avenue, Lotus hopes for a groundbreaking ceremony as early as July on its Riverwalk housing project, on vacant land behind the Walmart at 1959 Wall Ave. “Workforce” housing is planned for the location, appealing to those with more moderate incomes.

Ogden Riverview

A rendering of the initial stage of the Lotus Company's Riverview housing project west of the Wall Avenue Walmart in Ogden, off West 20th Street along the Ogden River.

According to papers filed with the City of Ogden, the initial phase of the Riverwalk project calls for 101 apartment units and 17 town homes. Wrigley envisions a “food truck alley” at the location with pads in a public-gathering area that can accommodate food trucks for special events geared to tenants. He also talks of installing a “learning center” at the location with tutors who can help students living in the development.

“As you can see from the scope of these projects, it is our goal as a developer to bring conceptualized and master-planned communities to fruition — not just build one asset at a time,” the Lotus statement said. “It’s in this same vein that we are intent on integrating gathering spaces and innovative hospitality concepts into said communities.”

A second phase of the Riverwalk project calls for 119 housing units. A rendering on the Lotus website, meantime, shows an even broader footprint, with housing stretching along the southern bank of the Ogden River, north of Walmart, and more housing on now-vacant land on the north side of the Ogden River.

Back in the city center, plans to renovate the Berthana Ballroom — focus of on-and-off talk in Ogden over the years — are in the early stages. But that doesn’t temper the visionary view of the Lotus developers. “The ballroom will be transformed into high-end office space, breathing new and useful life into a unique and iconic space that has sat unoccupied for too long,” Lotus said.

Lotus also is building the Foxridge and Whisperwood town home developments along 12th Street, with an estimated 66 town homes between them.

Contact reporter Tim Vandenack at tvandenack@standard.net, follow him on Twitter at @timvandenack or like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/timvandenackreporter.

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