OGDEN — While the COVID-19 pandemic obviously had a major impact on Ogden City — manifested through things like an ultra conservative 2021 budget, the suspension of regular pay raises for city employees and moving weekly city council meetings to an online-only format — infrastructure and development dominated city government circles this year.
Here are the top five stories from Ogden City and the Ogden City Council in 2020.
The wheels have been on motion on the West Ogden redevelopment site know as the Trackline Economic Development Area since 2013, but in 2020, several milestones were reached.
The tax-incentivized city project includes 122 acres between 24th Street and Middleton Road from the railroad tracks to G Avenue. Beginning in the 1930s, the area was home to the Ogden livestock yards and was once a thriving economic hub. When the stock yards were shut down in the 1970s, the area quickly grew dilapidated and had been mostly uninhabited until Trackline was established.
The development includes a mix of commercial, manufacturing and light industrial space, including a 51-acre outdoor recreation business park called the Ogden Business Exchange. A mix of local and international companies now do business out of the park, including Enve Composites, the Selle Royal Company, Roosters Brewing Company and Ogden’s Own Distillery.
In May, the city began the demolition of the 103-year old Swift building. Sitting at 390 W. Exchange Road, just north of the 24th Street viaduct, the 103-year-old warehouse was once home to the defunct Swift meatpacking plant. With its large red “Swift” sign and its prominent location near one of the city’s main entrance points, the building has been an icon in Ogden for decades.
Ogden Deputy Director of Community and Economic Development Brandon Cooper said the demolition proceeded selling the site to a California-based company that will integrate it into the developing Ogden Business Exchange business park.
In September, the city opened the first phase of a new bike park at the development. The initial iteration of the park includes single-track bike trails, numerous bike features and obstacles, and an entry kiosk and signage.
According to Ogden Engineer Justin Anderson, the park will ultimately encompass 9 acres, built out as the Trackline development progresses.
Hoping to gain in-depth community insight on what to do with the more than 60-year-old Marshall White community and recreation center, the city formally unveiled a nine-member advisory committee for the center in October.
Built in the 1960s on the western edge of Ogden’s downtown, the Marshall White has long served low-income residents of the city with racially and culturally diverse backgrounds. Ogden has been scrutinizing the operation since March 2018 when its centerpiece feature, the pool, closed after officials discovered large cracks in its surface. Initial estimates suggest it could cost more than $2 million to bring the pool back to life.
In the two years since the pool closed, Marshall White users have regularly asked the city to move forward to fix it. But Mayor Mike Caldwell and others in his administration have said the high cost and the possibility of opening a new YMCA facility has added more nuance to what was an already uncertain situation with the pool.
The city has been working with the YMCA and consultant Pathway Associates to study a number of issues related to a new rec center — namely, cost, size, programming, location and the possibility of raising funds for it through a voter-approved bond and other means. An initial feasibility study from Pathway posits the YMCA could raise up to $10 million for a newly constructed recreation facility of about 58,000 square feet.
In May, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced it would provide $891 million in federal funding for 12 transit infrastructure projects across the nation, among them, the Ogden bus rapid transit project that will provide a 5.3-mile transit connection between downtown Ogden and the campuses of Weber State University and McKay-Dee Hospital.
The Ogden BRT project, which received $65 million in federal funds, has been discussed and studied in Weber County government circles for more than 15 years. According to Ogden City Council documents, an Ogden/WSU transit study commenced in November 2004. The first vision for the project called for a streetcar system, but that option was ultimately deemed too expensive.
The BRT service will originate at the Ogden Utah Transit Authority transit center at 2350 Wall Ave., head east on 23rd Street to Washington Boulevard, go south along Washington to 25th Street, turn east along 25th to Harrison Boulevard, then south to WSU and a planned transit center at the Dee Events Center. Construction on the project will start in early January.
In May, the Ogden City Council unanimously adopted the “Make Ogden” downtown master plan. The plan represents a complete overhaul of the city’s now former community plan for the downtown district and will be used as a blueprint for growth and expansion there for at least 25 years.
The plan calls for nearly 5,000 new housing units, 7,000 new jobs, 1,000 new hotel rooms and 4,500 new parking stalls, which would be implemented incrementally in four different phases through 2045.
Dovetailing with the Make Ogden plan, the City Council in December approved a land transfer and development agreement with development firm JF Capital. The agreement paves the way for construction on a multimillion-dollar transformation of the city’s municipal block to begin next year.
Encompassing a piece of land at 26th Street between Grant and Lincoln avenues, the Centerville-based development firm plans to reconstruct a now vacant property into a mixed-used site consisting of hospitality, commercial, retail, office and multi-family housing.
Cooper said the development site, which was once home to the large Hostess and Wonder Bread factory, is to eventually include nearly 300 residential units on top of what could be as much as 63,000 square feet of retail space. Office space and a boutique hotel with about 100 rooms will also be part of the project, along with a new 754-stall parking structure.