OGDEN — Demolition is expected to start later in the week on the vacated parking garage just east of the Weber Center in downtown Ogden.
More significantly, perhaps, the looming removal of the structure has Weber County leaders mulling a possible move from the Weber Center altogether to other digs, maybe outside the city’s central core. No definitive decision has yet been made, but Weber County Commissioner Scott Jenkins puts the possibility of leaving at 50%.
“Let’s put it this way — it’s an option,” he said.
Discussion about removing the aging parking garage due to its deteriorating condition dates to at least 2017. Officials have debated what to do with the space once the structure is gone, but in light of the estimated price tag of building a replacement garage — $15 million — the discussion has turned to selling the land instead and moving county government offices. Should officials go that route, whatever entity buys the county-owned Weber Center and parking garage space could then decide how to develop the real estate.
“That’s turned into prime space,” Jenkins said. What’s more, with the $15 million a replacement garage would cost, the county could build a brand new structure to house county offices, he said.
The crews handling demolition of the garage, closed to the public as a precaution after the March 18 earthquake that shook Utah, are expected to mobilize at the site on Monday. Demolition should start Thursday or Friday, and the building should be leveled in three or four weeks, according to Scott Mendoza, project coordinator in the Weber County Community Development Office. Following demolition, crews will install a surface parking lot with 95 spaces, meant as a temporary fix until more detailed plans for the space emerge. The new parking space should be done by the end of October.
The sidewalk abutting the garage to the south along 24th Street will be closed during demolition, as will the northernmost lane of traffic, reducing westbound traffic to just one lane. The garage was originally built in 1964 and has 237 stalls, though part of the building was closed to parking even before the March quake as it deteriorated.
The estimated project cost is $1.9 million, but the county should save on that by doing a portion of the work in-house, according to Mendoza.
NO TIMELINE OR RUSH
Jenkins had earlier floated the idea of teaming with the private sector to develop the parking garage space following demolition. But the talk subsequently morphed into selling the land and the Weber Center outright and relocating. Weber County acquired the Weber Center in the mid-1990s, moving county offices that had been scattered around the downtown area to the structure at the northeast corner of 24th Street and Washington Boulevard.
Before county offices moved to the Weber Center, it housed a Zion’s Cooperative Mercantile Institution department store.
There’s no timeline or rush for deciding on a course of action, Jenkins said. And even if the county does decide to move its offices, the process would likely take a few years — to detail a plan, sell the Weber Center and prep or build the replacement digs.
Also figuring in county officials’ thinking is the sale of the old First Security Building on the southeast corner of 24th Street and Washington Boulevard to the Cache Valley Bank. Cache Valley Bank, which acquired the 12-story building across from the Weber Center in 2018, plans to redevelop the landmark structure.
The revamped building could attract more business to downtown Ogden, which, perhaps, would be more appropriate in the city center than government offices, in Jenkins’ view.
Mike Lemon, chief financial officer for Logan-based Cache Valley Bank, said efforts to overhaul the building should start in coming months.
One possible relocation site for county offices could be county-owned land off West 12th Street in Ogden, near the Weber County Sheriff’s Office complex, according to Jenkins. It’s not the only one, though, and local real estate agents have been informed of the talk among county leaders about potentially moving.