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Ogden mayoral candidates discuss future development of downtown area

By Standard-Examiner staff - | Aug 1, 2023

Rob Nielsen, Standard-Examiner

Ogden mayoral candidates are looking at downtown developments of the future, including the Union Station campus, pictured here on June 17, 2023.

Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of six questions posed to Ogden’s seven mayoral candidates.

Across the country, downtown areas are getting a second look after years of suburbanization.

The trend is no different in Ogden. Many are looking to the future of locations such as the WonderBlock and Union Station and their surroundings. Mayoral candidates are also contemplating the future of development in downtown with today’s question: Are you onboard with downtown development initiatives outlined in MakeOgden — Union Station development, the WonderBlock plans, the move to paid downtown parking?

The following responses are in the candidates’ own words.

Chris Barragan

“I am onboard with the downtown development initiatives. I believe that MakeOgden is providing an exciting future for our community. As a small business owner on 25th I welcome the development and welcome paid parking. I support mindful development of Union Station. Development that honors the past and at the same time empowers Union Station to be a focal point for future passenger travel throughout the nation. We need more development in more areas. Harrison could use an increased (focus). Small businesses and housing on Harrison will attract students and young families to Ogden. Development to the north and south of downtown Ogden is also good for our city’s future.”

Bart Blair

“Yes, I fully support the development initiatives in the downtown. In order to continue to decrease the reliance on property owners paying for the basic services of our city, we need to make sure that we have a financially balanced city. For Ogden to do that, we need to be able to recruit commercial development in our downtown. There is a smart way to go about maintaining the charm of our downtown and still be able to grow our tax base. Also, this type of development hasn’t happened in Ogden for years. These types of development will serve as catalists (sic) for the future. The opportunities we have right now, are a result of strategic planning, responsible accounting and immense collaboration.”

Angel Castillo

“I support the vision of the MakeOgden plan, but I do NOT support the deal the administration made and the RDA (city council) voted for. We shouldn’t be paying developers to build luxury apartments, office space and commercial space. Period.

“I’m an incremental development person. What’s the smallest, easiest thing you can do for a local business? Find that and DO THAT. And do it again, and again.

“Let’s support local businesses instead of bonding for $160 million for a non-local developer.

“That’s us as citizens paying a bond off until 2054. Empty space? Developer bankruptcy? We are on the hook until 2054 no matter what. I have attended every city council/RDA meeting since 2018 fighting against this. My administration will end this type of corporate welfare.”

Jon Greiner

“I support the downtown development initiatives outlined in Make Ogden. I also support Union Station development and the Wonder Block plans. Ogden needs to use every opportunity it can to remain competitive to other cities to attract new citizens, new businesses, and reach its potential.

“Ogden used to have parking meters, other communities have reintroduced them. Currently there are only two parking enforcement officers to deal with 27 square miles of Ogden’s footprint. As the former police chief, whose department they fell under, I can say that their efforts didn’t really solve the problems of parking. To reinstall parking meters in the downtown area would allow these officers to be more proactive at the parking issues in the other areas of the city.”

Taylor Knuth

“Yes, I am generally in support of the downtown development initiative, MakeOgden, which outlines projects like the redevelopment of the Union Station campus and the Wonderblock.

“25th Street is a defining characteristic of Ogden City and rightfully deserves the support it’s receiving and these efforts align with my values.

“While I see value in the current decisions and plans in motion, we can and should do more to integrate the concerns and values of our small business owners across the entire city. As the only candidate with proven professional experience in economic development, I understand the importance of comprehensive, meaningful, and consistent support for small businesses in Ogden.

“Let’s expand our efforts to include more feedback into major city-planning efforts, like the MakeOgden plan.”

Oscar Mata

“The MakeOgden initiatives will shape Ogden’s identity for the next generation. While I firmly oppose moves like paid parking, hindering our residents’ free access to our vibrant downtown, other initiatives like the Union Station redevelopment require careful consideration. As one of Ogden’s landmarks, Union Station’s preservation is paramount. However, we should ensure its utilization optimally benefits our city. We have a unique opportunity to both honor our rich railway history and stimulate economic growth. It’s essential we strike the right balance for the good of all Ogdenites.”

Ben Nadolski

“I like the bold vision of the MakeOgden Plan, and each major project in our downtown should have a thorough and collaborative community engagement process. Restoring the Union Station, curating its history, returning rail travel to its doorstep, and reactivating the campus with complimentary commerce will make it the focal point of our downtown and pay homage to our history. I like a lot of things about the WonderBlock project, and I think we need to explore paid parking in an incremental and adaptive way. But with no history of charging for parking, I voted against the project because I wasn’t convinced the parking revenue projections would cover the debt obligation. That was a fiscal gamble I wasn’t willing to take.”


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