Ogden’s proposed hotel-to-housing ordinance update drawing interest
OGDEN — The owner of an Ogden motel that closed last year and operators of a motel still open to the public are potentially interested in converting the buildings to housing per a zoning ordinance update still in the works.
The upshot could be a bump in permanent multifamily housing offerings in the city, but fewer motels serving as emergency housing for lower-income folks finding themselves with no other options.
What was the Days Inn motel in Ogden at 3306 Washington Blvd. closed last April, according to Crystal Galligan, who manages the location. Now the new owners are interested in remodeling the vacant structure and turning it into housing.
“That’s the goal — to turn (the rooms) into apartments, like studio apartments,” Galligan said. The work has yet to begin, she said, but the new owners, Etna Properties of South Jordan, have undertaken such conversions before.
Likewise, city planning paperwork indicates operators of the Motel 6 at 1455 Washington Blvd. in Ogden are also potentially interested in converting the structure to multifamily housing.
“The Motel 6 on Washington Boulevard is definitely interested. We’ve had some inquiries about the old Days Inn site also,” said Barton Brierley, Ogden’s planning manager. The rezone request of the Motel 6 location to allow for its conversion is tentatively to be discussed by the Ogden Planning Commission on Feb. 1.
Homeless residents and others with limited housing options sometimes resort to motels for housing. Indeed, before it closed last year, the Days Inn facility, while ostensibly a motel, had become home for some.
“A lot of permanent residents — that was their place to live,” Galligan said. “They became kind of permanent residents. They lived there. They were good people. They were struggling.”
In Ogden, though, motel options — eyed with a measure of concern by some officials — are quickly narrowing as aging operations are razed. City leaders hope the new hotel-to-housing guidelines prompt housing development that caters, at least in part, to the lower-income population.
The Colonial Motel at 1269 Washington Blvd. was demolished to make way for a Chipotle Mexican Grill. Three other motels were razed in 2019 — the Ogden River Inn at 1825 Washington Blvd., the Millstream Motel at 1450 Washington Blvd. and the Courtyard Inn at the southwest corner of 25th Street and Ogden Avenue.
Yet another motel in Ogden, the Budget Inn at 1956 Washington Blvd., has been closed for more than two years. “There is no movement on it,” said Brierley, asked about the future plans of the owners of the site.
The Ogden City Council discussed the motel-conversion ordinance last month and Brierley said it should come back to the body for formal consideration on Feb. 7. Among other things, the proposed rules call for a mix of one- and two-bedroom apartments, kitchen facilities and — if a converted motel has more than 16 units — 24-hour on-site management.
A report on the issue by City Council staff noted rising interest in converting motels and hotels to permanent housing, which spurred the ordinance update proposal. “Staff is concerned that if these conversions are not done carefully, the resulting housing could result in undesirable living conditions for residents and create various crime and social issues,” reads the report, prepared ahead of the Dec. 13 Ogden City Council meeting when the issue was discussed.
Furthermore, Brierley indicated that hotels and motels aren’t ideal housing.
“Part of the issue is that hotels/motels are designed for short-term stays for the traveling public. They are not designed for long-term residency or alternate residences for locals,” Brierley said. “When they are used for long-term stays, they can create other problems, such as not having appliances, sinks, recreation areas, cleaning supplies and so forth that are needed for long-term residency.”
What’s more, budget motels serving as housing can be magnets for crime and other problems, according to an Arizona State University study on the matter cited by Brierley. City officials hope that if motels and hotels are converted to long-term housing, they include options catering to “low-income or former homeless individuals.”