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Ogden BRT plans also envision redevelopment in four areas

By Tim Vandenack - | Jun 6, 2022
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A new stop for the Ogden bus rapid transit system takes shape at the corner of 25th Street and Monroe Boulevard. It's one of four areas along the BRT route targeted for potential redevelopment efforts. The photo was taken Tuesday, May 31, 2022.
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A new stop for the Ogden bus rapid transit system takes shape at the corner of 25th Street and Monroe Boulevard. It's one of four areas along the BRT route targeted for potential redevelopment efforts. The photo was taken Tuesday, May 31, 2022.
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A new stop for the Ogden bus rapid transit system takes shape at the corner of 25th Street and Monroe Boulevard. It's one of four areas along the BRT route targeted for potential redevelopment efforts. The photo was taken Tuesday, May 31, 2022.
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A new stop for the Ogden bus rapid transit system takes shape at the corner of 25th Street and Monroe Boulevard. It's one of four areas along the BRT route targeted for potential redevelopment efforts. The photo was taken Tuesday, May 31, 2022.

OGDEN — The bus rapid transit system project in Ogden doesn’t just call for a new high-speed corridor to make public transportation quicker between some of the key points in the city.

Another big element focuses on spurring redevelopment of the neighborhoods surrounding four planned BRT stops — at the FrontRunner station near Union Station, 25th Street and Monroe Boulevard, 32nd Street and Harrison Boulevard and around the Weber State and McKay-Dee Hospital campuses.

Broadly, the aim is to bolster housing and create a pool of potential riders for the Utah Transit Authority system, thereby reducing dependency on cars, easing road congestion along the Wasatch Front and reducing air pollution. That could mean change in the neighborhoods around the four stops — more housing, higher-density housing like apartments and townhomes and more businesses — though it’s a long-range effort and specifics will be subject to future deliberation.

The plans fall within a scheme dubbed transit-oriented development, or TOD, by the transit authority, the motor behind the BRT plans. Transit-oriented development “will be critical to support the BRT and will aid in providing additional/various housing units across a spectrum of affordability,” Brandon Cooper, director of Ogden’s Community and Economic Development Department, said in an email to the Standard-Examiner.

Development of the ex-Rite Aid site between 24th and 25th streets and Monroe Boulevard and Quincy Avenue near the planned BRT stop at 25th Street and Monroe fits within the scheme, according to Cooper. That’s the area now dubbed Capitol Square.

Beyond that, a lot still has to be worked out.

‘A MULTI-PHASE PROJECT’

The 5.3-mile, $130 million BRT system — using high-speed buses to connect the FrontRunner station, McKay-Dee Hospital and Weber State, largely along 25th Street east of Washington Boulevard and Harrison Boulevard south of 25th Street — is to be complete next year. As is, 25th Street east of Washington Boulevard and Harrison Boulevard between 32nd and 36th streets are heavy construction zones as work proceeds to turn the sections into corridors that can accommodate the high-speed buses.

The envisioned redevelopment around the four BRT stops — outlined in the Ogden Onboard plan, a joint Ogden-UTA initiative that’s tied to the high-speed bus system plans — is a much longer-range initiative, officials say. Don’t necessarily expect immediate, widespread action, notwithstanding the forward action on the Capitol Square effort.

“A specific schedule does not yet exist for the development depicted in Ogden Onboard,” said Jordan Swain, UTA’s TOD project manager. “It’s expected to be a multiphase project, the phasing of which will be contingent on funding and market potential. It’s likely that the ongoing, rapid growth along the Wasatch Front, will strengthen market demand and accelerate the implementation.”

That said, efforts are edging forward. The Ogden City Council on April 19 formally accepted the Ogden Onboard plan as a development vision, though it didn’t tie any funding to the action. The UTA board of trustees is to take similar action at a meeting next Wednesday.

Cooper said development plans around the four targeted BRT stops would be “neighborhood specific.” Planning and policy formulation “is a good first step” in the process, he said, and city redevelopment officials sometimes get involved in such schemes by acquiring land earmarked for growth or providing development incentives.

However, the private sector would likely be a driver of action.

“Most redevelopment scenarios benefit existing landowners and businesses. They are usually in control of the land and the decision whether or not to build or sell,” Cooper said.

According to the Ogden Onboard plan, the most intense redevelopment could occur around the Union Station area. There, big change is envisioned, including development of a portion of the rail yards west of the station area.

“In general, downtown presents the greatest opportunity for high-density, mixed-use development. Residential development should be mid-rise multifamily — at a density greater than 50 dwelling units per acre — and include some active ground floor use(s),” reads the plan.

Development of the Capitol Square project near the 25th Street and Monroe Boulevard station is a big element of plans there, but not necessarily the only thing.

“Enhanced crossings on 25th and Monroe, continuous sidewalks and street trees and a mixture of uses and public spaces fronting the intersection will activate the station,” reads the Ogden Onboard plan. Housing densities would be lower than in the downtown area.

Ogden Onboard envisions a “transit-oriented village” around the planned stop at 32nd Street and Harrison Boulevard.

“On 32nd, new commercial and mixed-use buildings on the west side of Harrison will allow for a greater mixture of shopping, services and employment, while additional housing infill on vacant land west of Harrison will provide housing close to the transit station,” the plan reads. It continues, saying “infill housing is likely the predominant land use in the target area. Townhomes and low-rise multifamily should be the target near-term development types.”

The area around Weber State and McKay-Dee Hospital “is unique to the corridor,” Ogden Onboard reads. “There are opportunities for office, higher-density housing and other supportive commercial uses,” the report says.

Broadly, Swain envisions creation of “vibrant centers that make life along the Wasatch Front possible without a car,” he said.

Whatever the case, it will require a multipronged approach. “A variety of tactics will be necessary to catalyze the desired vision, possibly including, but not limited to, zoning amendments, tax-increment districts, parking reductions, collaboration with the development community,” he said.

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