OGDEN — Not much construction has taken place at the site of the old Wonder Bread building since Ogden City bought the property for $2.4 million in 2016 and subsequently tore it down last year.
But the city is hoping that will change, and soon.
Ogden Deputy Director of Community and Economic Development Brandon Cooper said the city is currently in negotiations with the Utah State Courts administration, with the two sides trying to reach an agreement on a parcel of land that is crucial to developing the now vacant Wonder Bread site. Part of the parking lot that serves the Ogden 2nd District Court sits in the line of proposed city redevelopment.
“They own a piece of the western parking lot that would be important for the development,” Cooper said. “So, there’s ongoing discussions with them about how to make that transaction happen, getting a conveyance of the property that’s needed for the development and then what happens in exchange, in terms of replacing those parking stalls.”
Cooper said the city administration is working on a “land transfer and development agreement,” which he hopes will be presented to the Ogden City Council soon for approval. The deal essentially clears a roadblock for construction on a massive, tax-incentivized development near the Ogden Municipal Building.
The old Wonder Bread site is part of the city’s Continental Community Reinvestment Area. Located inside a six-block area between Wall Avenue and Washington Boulevard and 25th and 27th streets, the Continental CRA will use tax increment financing to help fund a host of redevelopment projects.
TIF works by freezing the tax valuation for all taxable properties inside a specific area of land that the city has tabbed for reinvestment. For a certain amount of time or up to a certain dollar amount, future increases in property tax revenue are used in the redevelopment effort, an oft-used development incentive.
The TIF money is typically offered to developers as a motivation to build, and it can be used for things like street and utility improvements, hazardous waste removal, property acquisition and the demolition of blighted buildings.
Key projects associated with the CRA include the construction of single-family and multi-family units, consolidation of parking and the redevelopment of portions of the municipal block, a new hotel, public infrastructure improvements and the renovation of existing buildings. Construction on a market and apartments will likely begin first, according to Cooper.
According to city council documents, the Weber County Jail, the Ogden Justice Court and the Salvation Army, Bank of Utah and American Linen buildings are also listed as potential redevelopment sites. Project expenditures for the CRA could total as much as $236.2 million.
“We feel like this is a redevelopment effort comparable to The Junction, in terms of how it will transform our downtown,” said Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell. “We all remember what downtown looked liked with that big, vacant shopping mall, and how it all totally changed with The Junction. I think we’ll see something similar at the old Wonder Bread site. You had another big, vacant facility with the Wonder Bread factory, and now that’s gone and it will be replaced with new housing, shopping — it’ll be a total makeover.”
Also related to the redevelopment effort, the city will hold a public hearing Oct. 20 on a proposal to transfer $600,000 from its Business Depot Ogden lease fund to the Continental CRA. Ogden Comptroller Lisa Stout said the money would be used to pay off the remaining debt on a loan the city procured to purchase the Wonder Bread property, for architectural and civil design work for the nearby historic Browning Ice Cream Building, and for additional environmental remediation at the site.