Ogden’s Eccles Conference Center in line for up to $11.8M in updates
OGDEN — The Eccles Conference Center in downtown Ogden is in line to get a multimillion-dollar update.
Kassi Bybee, general manager of the county-owned facility in the heart of the downtown area at 2415 Washington Blvd., said the conference center, built in 1997, needs an upgrade to keep with the times. County leaders have preliminarily earmarked $5.8 million for improvements and Eccles officials are hoping for up to $6 million more, or a total of $11.8 million.
“It is an asset to our community! We have had many changes to downtown since this conference center was built. It is time for a remodel, bringing a new modern look, better energy-saving equipment, while providing current needs to our clients and attendees,” Bybee said in an email Tuesday to the Standard-Examiner.
Eccles sits next door to Peery’s Egyptian Theater, also owned by the county, but changes aren’t contemplated to that facility.
The conference center hosts 220-260 business events and other gatherings a year, drawing nearly 100,000 people, Bybee estimates. That’s down from 130,000 people a year before the COVID-19 pandemic, but the industry, she said, “is coming back.” She estimates the facility has an economic impact to the local community of $10 million a year, factoring spending throughout the area of those who come to Ogden to take part in conference center activities.
Weber County Commissioners last week approved a contract worth $479,000 with VCBO Architecture of Salt Lake City to craft the update plans. If the county provides the other $6 million Bybee hopes for, the value of the contract would rise correspondingly.
In approving the VCBO contract, secured via a public request for proposals, county commissioners noted the economic ripple effect of visitors to Weber County, like participants in conferences at Eccles. Tourist dollars help put a check on the property taxes county officials need to collect, said Commissioner Jim Harvey.
Weber County’s 2023 budget contains a $5.8 million earmark for the Eccles upgrades, with another $3 million tentatively to come in 2024, according to the spending plan.
Eccles would not get additional space per the update plans and the Egyptian theme of the facility would remain, but the improvements would impact all areas of the conference center if county leaders commit the proposed $11.8 million in funding, according to Bybee.
She envisions new flooring, improvements to the kitchen and outdoor terrace area, new LED lighting throughout the facility, reducing energy use, and more. The agreement with VCBO also states that ballrooms, meeting rooms, bathrooms, lounge spaces and more would also get facelifts.
The upgrades, Bybee anticipates, will augment conference center use. Officials haven’t yet spelled out a timeline for the work.