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Public presented with rough concepts for Union Station Neighborhood in Ogden

By Rob Nielsen - | Nov 16, 2023

Rob Nielsen, Standard-Examiner

Interested parties review a rough concept for the Union Station Neighborhood project Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2023.

OGDEN — If you present concepts, people will come.

This proved true Wednesday evening as the Union Station Neighborhood’s third community conversation drew its biggest crowd yet to Union Station for the unveiling of two potential concepts of what the 29.6-acre area to the north and south of the historic site could look like in the future.

Robb Berg, president of Design Workshop, the design and planning firm working on the neighborhood concept, said that the concepts are only a rough draft at this point.

“We know that it’s not going to be right, we know that it’s not perfect, but it’s the first iteration of what we hope to iterate a number of times before we do get it right,” he said.

He emphasized that the plans laid out are by no means finalized.

“A concept plan is a collection of all these ideas (residents have) been throwing at us for the last six months or so, and it’s our first chance to physically throw them on the plan and to shuffle them around in a couple of configurations,” he said. “It’s not the end. We’re going to continue to iterate these.”

Berg added that the goal is ultimately to make the station and surrounding lands play a wider role in downtown Ogden.

“Union Station feels like maybe it’s on an island today,” he said. “We’ve got Wall Avenue which is a very big barrier between Historic 25th and all of downtown and where we are today. In the future, this should all be knitted back together in a way that it once was. We’re looking at this Union Station development as playing a larger role in city building and the revitalization of downtown.”

One of the key ways that the station would connect with downtown in both concepts presented Wednesday is a return in train services.

“We can still bring FrontRunner and all of those people that get off of the train here and funnel them through the grand hall and really experience Union Station in a way that they should,” Berg said. “The other component of this, you’ll see, is the Amtrak service. While we can’t necessarily do anything from a design perspective to bring Amtrak here, we can make sure we’re not precluding it. We’re going to make sure we’re not designing our way out of Amtrak service.”

He added that historic preservation with regard to the current Union Station museums is also key in both plans.

“There’s a number of artifacts that are not on display today,” Berg said. “There was a program document that was put together that indicated the need for 115,000 square feet, plus or minus, to house all of the artifacts that need to be displayed. We don’t have that capacity within Union Station today, so we need to be thinking about how we incorporate the museum in this Union Station Neighborhood moving forward.”

Berg said other priorities include making Wall Avenue safer to cross over, keeping intermodal options accessible and creating a vibrant mixed-use space.

Concept A included commercial developments to the south of the station with museums being expanded in that direction as well as utilizing the facility’s laundry building. Green space is dotted throughout with bus services largely being retained where they exist today. A hotel is also proposed north of the station and housing options were proposed for the northern fringes of the project.

Concept B’s most radical departures include moving museum spaces to the north side of the building and adding structures nearby while moving the majority of bus traffic to Wall Avenue.

Following a presentation was a question-and-answer session. The night ended with people being asked to submit more feedback on the concepts and what designers got right and wrong.

Following the presentation, Berg told the Standard-Examiner he was excited by the turnout.

“It was fun to see a lot of familiar faces from previous engagement events, but what’s really great is to see some new folks in the audience — some people that haven’t participated in the past,” he said. “I think it’s generally the case when you come to a meeting that’s going to be presenting concepts, you tend to get better attendance.”

He said that the parties involved would gather feedback on the rough plans ahead of their next meeting.

“We know that neither of the two plans are perfect,” he said. “They are a first pass at conceptualizing all of the things that we’ve heard over the past six months from the community in physical form.”

The next iteration of plans will be presented at the Union Station Neighborhood’s next community conversation on Jan. 24, 2024.

For more information on the Union Station Neighborhood, to see the two concepts and give feedback, visit https://www.unionstation-ogden.com.


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