OGDEN — As the Weber Center parking garage comes down, Weber County Commissioners are edging ahead with their inquiry to see whether moving from the downtown Ogden building is the way to go.

The parking structure, just east of the Weber Center in the 400 block of 24th Street, is largely gone, and crews on Monday were working on the retaining wall on the uphill, eastern portion of the property. Eventually, a 95-space surface parking lot is to replace what was a three-level 237-space garage.

Demo 3.jpg

Crews clear rubble from the site of the parking garage, now torn down, that served the Weber Center in downtown Ogden. A 95-space surface lot is to replace the three-level 237-spot garage that once sat at the location in the 400 block of 24th Street. The photo was taken Monday, Sept. 28, 2020. The Weber-Morgan Health Department is visible in the back of the photo.

“It’s all demolished and down,” said Scott Mendoza. Aside from work on the retaining wall, he said crews will have to remove the concrete base of the structure before installing the new parking space, probably by late November or early December.

Weber County Commissioner Gage Froerer said commissioners will be seeking proposals from commercial real estate brokers on marketing the Weber Center for potential sale. Given the cost of rebuilding a full-scale garage to replace the now-demolished structure — $15 million-$18 million — commissioners are instead mulling the sale of the structure and relocating county government offices elsewhere.

“With that cost, is this the location that’s best for the county?” Froerer said.

The county may seek the proposals from brokers as early as this week, but that hardly means they’ve made a definitive decision. The proposals would outline a marketing plan and indicate the possible price the county could expect from sale of the Weber Center. And even if commissioners do decide to move county offices to a new location, the process could take three to five years, Froerer estimates.

“It’s definitely not going to be immediate,” Froerer said. Any entity that acquires the building may ask the county to stay for up to five years before moving out, Froerer said, and county officials would likewise have to pinpoint a new location for county offices.

Still, Weber County Commissioner Scott Jenkins senses consensus that moving from downtown Ogden is the preferred alternative, presuming the county can get a decent offer for the Weber Center. “Downtown is prime office and retail property. We don’t need to be that close to that area,” he said, noting that the county, as a government entity, pays no property taxes.

Weber County centralized offices that had been scattered around downtown Ogden to the Weber Center after acquiring the structure in the mid-1990s. The building sits at the northeast corner of 24th Street and Washington Boulevard.

PRICE TAG:

$1.8 MILLIONGiven the cost of building a covered garage, the county’s plans, instead, call for developing a surface lot at the location. Demolition of the old structure and adding the surface lot comes with a price tag of around $1.8 million.

Weber County garage (copy)

The parking garage abutting the Weber Center in downtown Ogden is shown here on March 25, 2020. As of Monday, September 28, 2020, it had been largely demolished.

Mendoza said the demolition work was complicated by the unexpected presence of cables in the structure that helped support it. The original timeline had called for completion of the surface lot in October.

The work has displaced Weber County employees and others who frequent the private offices in the structure who used to park in the garage. But several other area lots have been designated to serve them during the work, including the lot east of the old parking garage and another lot to the south across 24th Street.

Talk of demolishing the garage dates to at least 2017. As a precaution, the structure was closed to the public after the March 18 earthquake that shook Utah, preceding demolition work, which started in late July.

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

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!