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Ogden leaders mull changes to downtown parking, elimination of free parking

By Tim Vandenack - | May 21, 2022

Deborah Wilber, Standard-Examiner

Ogden's Historic 25th Street is pictured Wednesday morning, Oct. 13, 2021.

OGDEN — As part of Make Ogden, the ambitious proposal to reinvent the city’s core area, officials are taking a close look at parking — adding new parking structures and revamping existing ones, spending millions of dollars, perhaps, along the way.

How cars are managed and directed in the downtown area has been the topic of on-and-off debate, and the issue is a big focus in Ogden’s proposed capital improvement plan for 2023, put forward by Mayor Mike Caldwell in next year’s proposed spending plan. Indeed, the parking plan easily has the biggest price tag of the varied CIP projects put forward for the coming fiscal year — $90.28 million in all over five years, including $33.95 million for fiscal year 2023.

Significantly, city officials’ vision is to charge for parking in the downtown area, and even get rid of free streetside parking in conjunction with plans to build, expand and revamp new and existing public parking garages.

“To make the parking structures work, streetside free parking will need to convert to paid parking,” reads a city budget document on the plans. The varied parking elements would collectively contain 3,272 parking spots.

At any rate, plans are in the preliminary stages and officials aren’t saying much, though the city budget documents, which were the focus of a work session last Tuesday, offer a little insight.

Image supplied, City of Ogden

This map shows the site of a proposed eight-level, 925-stall parking garage in the Wonder Block area in Ogden's city center, yet to be developed.

“This project is designed to centrally locate parking structures in the downtown area and (convert) streetside parking to paid parking to create a more efficient downtown parking plan,” the proposal from the Caldwell administration reads. Such change, it goes on, will create a parking scheme that “will meet future growth needs in densifying the downtown land usage.”

By creating multi-level parking structures, as proposed, instead of relying on single-level, at-grade lots, the aim is to allow reuse and new uses of existing structures in the city center. “If parking options are not available, buildings will remain vacant or the pressure will be to tear buildings down to make individual lots,” reads the budget proposal. “This creates a suburban feel.”

Brandon Cooper, director of Ogden’s Community and Economic Development Department, said the plans are a long-term effort, to be implemented in multiple phases. How they evolve will depend on the budgeting process, now in the hands of the Ogden City Council, using Caldwell’s budget proposal as a starting point.

“The city is in the investigation and analysis phase,” Cooper said in a message to the Standard-Examiner. “No significant funding has been appropriated by the City Council yet. The funding comes through our CIP process.”

City Councilmember Marcia White said a proposed eight-level parking garage in the so-called Wonder Block is a key element of the parking vision, outlined in Make Ogden, a multi-pronged proposal to guide development in the downtown area in the years to come. The Wonder Block is the now-vacant land north of 26th Street between Lincoln and Grant avenues where city leaders envision a mixed-use development with 300 apartments, 67,000 square feet of retail space, 111,000 square feet of office space and a 99-room hotel, among other things.

TIM VANDENACK, Standard-Examiner

The new 94-space parking lot east of the Weber Center in Ogden opened to the public on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. It's pictured Thursday, May 20, 2021.

“We need to put that parking garage in because it’s in the middle of everything and they will build around it,” White said. According to the budget documents from Tuesday’s meeting, a 925-stall parking structure is envisioned, costing $31.45 million.

Details of the Wonder Block parking structure emerged late last year when they were discussed by the Ogden Planning Commission.

The building would sit in the middle of the Wonder Block “wrapped with other mixed commercial and residential buildings,” reads a planning document from last November. The proposed design “emphasizes multi-story urban development.”

Where funding comes from isn’t addressed in the budget proposal. Aside from the Wonder Block parking structure, here are the other elements of the plans and estimated costs:

  • Creation of a 100-stall lot in a parcel sitting to the east of Washington Boulevard in the 2300 block of the street.
  • Replacing the two city-owned parking structures in the Junction entertainment area, $36.41 million. The south structure would have 967 stalls while the north one would contain 550 stalls.
  • Build a 350-stall lot on city-owned property between Kiesel and Grant avenues, south of 24th Street, $8.4 million.
  • Build a 230-stall lot on city-owned property south of 24th Street between Lincoln and Wall avenues, $5.52 million.
  • Build a 150-stall lot in the 2300 block between Lincoln and Grant avenues, $3.6 million.

Shifting to paid street parking, presumably by installing parking meters, would have a price tag of $2.5 million.

“We’re going to have to figure out the fees,” White said.

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