OGDEN — After nearly seven years of starts and stops, a new plan to redevelop a sought after city block in Ogden’s east-central neighborhood is in the works.
Brandon Cooper, Ogden’s deputy director of community and economic development, said the city’s Redevelopment Agency is working to purchase a $460,000 piece of property located at 856 25th St. The parcel in question sits inside the city block bordered by 25th and 26th streets on the north and south, and Monroe Boulevard and Gramercy Avenue on the east and west.
Known in city circles as the “Rite-Aid block” due to the yearslong presence of the drug store chain there, Cooper described the area as a prime spot for redevelopment. He said the property the city wants to purchase, which currently houses the 4-C Laundromat, is a needed component to fulfill the city’s ultimate vision for the block.
Cooper said the city’s RDA has been working on predevelopment activities on the block since 2015. Back then, the city started the process to establish a redevelopment district called the Oak Den Urban Renewal Area, which included the Rite-Aide block. That would-be district featured a nine-block section of east-central Ogden that included 413 properties on 84 acres, stretching from 23rd to 26th streets between Madison and Jackson avenues.
The initiative was abandoned in 2016 after residents in the Oak Den area aligned with Virginia-based public interest law firm Institute for Justice to fight a stipulation in the measure that allowed for the use of eminent domain. The city does not plan to use eminent domain with any future work associated with the block.
But despite the abandonment of the large redevelopment district, Ogden officials have continued to prioritize the Rite-Aid block. The city, or their current developer for the area, JF Capital, already owns most of the properties on the block, Cooper said. Three significant purchases were made in 2015, including an old IGA grocery building, a Wheelright Lumber facility and a large single-family home, and the city has continued buying activity since then. Cooper said the city kicked the tires on a proposal to put a Walmart at the site in 2016, but that idea never came to fruition.
“We just weren’t quite nailing what we thought would be a perfect use for this block,” Cooper said. “It’s in the middle of our east-central neighborhood and we wanted to make sure whatever we’re doing there is compatible with the neighborhood.”
In 2019, the Ogden City Council approved a resolution that designates a survey area for the block, the first step in creating a Community Reinvestment Area there called the Gramercy CRA. CRAs allow the tax valuation for all properties inside a designated area to be diverted for a certain amount of time, or up to a certain dollar threshold, while future property tax increases are funneled back into redevelopment projects there.
Known as Tax Increment Financing, the tool is often used by Ogden City as an incentive for developers to build.
Cooper said the present vision for the block, a proposal called Capitol Square, takes the “best parts” of previous city plans and includes a mix of housing types and office and retail space. A grocery store, a plaza, condos, townhomes, apartments and improved access to the Oasis Community Garden and Lester Park are all envisioned for the area.
Cooper said some early environmental sampling of the 4-C property has revealed the presence of a solvent that was typical for dry-cleaning use. He said the city will continue to investigate the area and will soon have a full environmental report that will characterize the extent of contamination and associated costs for cleanup.
Funds to purchase the site would come from the city’s Business Depot Ogden lease revenue cache. Ogden City Council Executive Director Janene Eller-Smith said the purchase will require an amendment to the city Fiscal Year 2021 budget. A public hearing on the matter is tentatively scheduled for March 23.