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Ogden official says fixing 25th Street construction site’s issues ‘could be a long process’

By Tim Vandenack - | Oct 25, 2023
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The unfinished apartment building at 144 25th St., pictured Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023. City officials have deemed it a fire hazard and called for the developer to address a range of issues.
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The rear of the unfinished apartment building at 144 25th St., pictured Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023. City officials have deemed it a fire hazard and called for the developer to address a range of issues. The device in the foreground is an Ogden Police Department portable camera system, a security precaution.
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The rear of the unfinished apartment building at 144 25th St., pictured Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023. City officials have deemed it a fire hazard and called for the developer to address a range of issues.

OGDEN — Don’t necessarily expect immediate action to rectify the apparent issues at the unfinished apartment building partially built at 144 25th St., deemed a fire hazard by city officials.

Mara Brown, Ogden’s chief administrative officer, said the developer has 60 days from Oct. 12, the date of the last city notice identifying the alleged problems with the building, to resolve them. If the process turns “contentious,” she added, that could stretch out the process. Then there’s always the possibility that the developer appeals the notice.

Significantly, though, the city “will be doing the in-person fire watch and we’ll be hardening the structure,” she told Ogden City Council members during a work session on Tuesday. “But there could be a long process before people see an immediate change on 25th Street. (It) could just take some time.”

The 60-day timeframe would put the deadline to fix the problems at Dec. 11, barring the possibility of an appeal or other delaying action. If no remedial action were taken, the city could then theoretically order the demolition of the structure.

City officials ordered a halt to construction of the five-story building late last March after determining that some of the lumber used in the wood-frame structure lacked the fire-resistant properties required per city code. On Sept. 26, the city issued an order and notice calling for the problems to be fixed then issued a second order and notice on Oct. 12 identifying additional structural problems with the building.

The issue has been a source of concern for Ogden leaders and others in part given the building’s location in the middle of Ogden’s main restaurant and bar zone. The Oct. 12 notice warns of the possibility of the building’s collapse due to the varied structural issues. If it were to catch fire, it also notes, the blaze would spread to adjacent buildings.

Given such worries, Brown told the leaders that city reps were taking over security of the building from the developer, Summa Terra Ventures. “We are now going to be taking that over and making sure there’s a live person. In fact we have had our own security there since Sunday,” she said.

She didn’t specify the security measures the city would take aside from having a physical presence at the building. However, a portable Ogden Police Department camera system was stationed in the parking lot at the rear of the building on Wednesday, a device that police officials say can be monitored from the department’s tactical analysis center.

Mike McBride, a spokesman for Mayor Mike Caldwell’s administration, said Wednesday that the “hardening” Brown referred to would entail closing gaps where an outsider could potentially gain access to building grounds. He said the physical security presence would go from sundown to sunup each daily cycle.

Brown’s comments seemed to ease the worries of Angela Choberka, chairperson of the City Council. “I appreciate you all doing that,” she said in response to the increased security steps outlined by Brown. “That helps me rest a little bit more easy.”

The city will cover the security costs, Brown said, but can place a lien on the property to recoup the money spent.

A BALANCING ACT

Though the apparent issues at the building at 144 25th St. have come to public light only recently, Brown said city officials had been aware of the reported problems in the building’s construction. They first communicated their concerns behind the scenes to reps from the developer and contractor, Makers Line — standard procedure before taking the more dramatic step of issuing public orders and notices.

“None of those items in those (notices) were new to either the city or to the developer. It’s a balance that our code enforcement takes between giving time to any developer of a project to fix issues that are identified, discrepancies between the plans and the work that’s being done,” Brown said. If the problems linger without remedy, she said, that’s when the city takes the more aggressive action of issuing orders aimed at getting them addressed.

In general, she said the process with regard to the 144 25th St. structure has played out properly. “Right now, I haven’t heard that our process isn’t working,” she said.

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