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Lotus, Ogden leaders break ground on ‘workforce housing’ development

By Tim Vandenack - | Jan 12, 2022

Photo supplied, Lotus Co.

Representatives from Lotus Co. and the City of Ogden broke ground Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022, on the Lotus Riverwalk development. It's taking shape west of the Walmart at 20th Street and Wall Avenue.

OGDEN -- Work on a large new development off 20th Street west of Wall Avenue, dubbed Lotus Riverwalk, has started.

The initial plans -- focus of a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday featuring Mayor Mike Caldwell and representatives from the developer, Lotus Co. -- call for 110 units, including 101 apartments and nine town homes. That first phase of development will be on a parcel of undeveloped land abutting the Ogden River, immediately west of the Walmart at the location.

But that's only the beginning.

Next, Lotus -- based in Salt Lake City and involved in many projects around Weber County -- plans to develop 161 more units upstream toward Wall Avenue, between the Ogden River and the Walmart parking lot. Longer term, the firm, teaming with the City of Ogden, envisions a development of perhaps 350 housing units on 10 acres of largely undeveloped land on the opposite side of the Ogden River, building a bridge west of Walmart to connect the two sides of the waterway.

"An amazingly dramatic change," Caldwell said.

Image supplied, Lotus Co.

Representatives from Lotus Co. and the City of Ogden broke ground Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022, on the Lotus Riverwalk development. It's taking shape west of the Walmart at 20th Street and Wall Avenue, in the area shaded in purple on the photo.

But first things first.

Joe Torman, president of construction and development for Lotus, said phase one of the Lotus Riverwalk plans, the first 110 units, should take around 16 months to complete, finishing sometime in the middle of 2023.

The rental housing, he said, is designed to be "workforce housing," offered at below-market rates to individuals and families with more moderate incomes. Lotus is tapping into the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program, which allows it to access tax credits to aid with project development and offer rents at about 20% to 25% below prevailing market rates.

"It's primarily family housing and affordable housing," he said. Utah, like many parts of the West, lacks affordable housing and the project is meant to help counter that.

It'll be a net-zero development, Torman said, with solar arrays to be installed as part of the project to generate enough energy to meet the development's power needs. The panels will be built atop the development's apartments, town homes and carports.

Image supplied, Lotus Co.

Representatives from Lotus Co. and the City of Ogden broke ground Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022, on the Lotus Riverwalk development. It's taking shape west of the Walmart at 20th Street and Wall Avenue. The initial area to be developed is in the lower left-hand corner of the map, but Lotus envisions developing the area across the Ogden River to the north and upstream along the river as well.

Lotus Riverwalk will also feature a park and common area to foster a sense of community.

Torman expects groundbreaking on phase two, the 161-unit development, sometime in the third quarter of 2022, by late summer or early fall. Design work on that part of the plans is still underway.

The timeline for the subsequent project phases across the Ogden River is more tenuous, in part because of the complications involved with building a bridge. Building a bridge "is a feat of epic proportions," Torman said, requiring involvement of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The planned bridge would connect roadways meandering through the new development on both sides of the river, leading to 20th Street to the south and Gibson Avenue to the north.

Broadly, Torman said the plans on the north side of the Ogden River call for an array of housing types -- single family homes, apartments and town homes. "It's all mixed income," he said, with different housing types catering to consumers of different income levels.

Caldwell lauded Lotus' efforts in the city. "They are a visionary group," he said.

Lotus is also building a cluster of town homes in the Riverbend area, just west of Washington Boulevard and south of the Ogden River. Leasing of the first units should begin by April.

Lotus is also planning to build 41 town homes on an undeveloped parcel across from that on the north side of the Ogden River, with groundbreaking expected within a month or so.

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