OGDEN — Ogden City officials are concerned with a surge of apartment developments popping up in commercial areas across town, so much so that they’re considering introducing an ordinance that would address the problem.
Ogden Planning Manager Greg Montgomery recently told the city planning commission that there have been more than 1,500 apartment units considered by planning staff just since 2019. Though not all of those units have been approved for final build, the number represents a significant increase from just two years ago, Montgomery said. In 2018, only 122 new apartment units were approved by the city.
“We’ve been seeing a lot of them,” Mayor Mike Caldwell said.
Montgomery and the mayor say there are a variety of potential reasons for the uptick, including the fact that Utah has relatively stable housing and employment markets, land is available and affordable, and financing is available for multi-unit projects.
The city has long sought to bring higher density to the downtown area, but Montgomery said many of the new apartment construction requests are for commercial areas outside of the Central Business District. He said the waning interest downtown might be due to the higher cost of property and the additional, more stringent design standards required in the area.
Space is also dwindling in the city’s River redevelopment area, where the city’s redevelopment agency has actively tried to recruit developers to build high-density housing.
“It’s something we’re currently working through, trying to figure out,” Caldwell said.
The city’s planning staff has analyzed some of the current apartment proposals, looking at their long-term livability. The department is also pondering long-term consequences of poorly designed or placed projects.
As such, the city is considering an ordinance that would strengthen design standards, as well as call for certain requirements regarding open space, parking and building materials. Montgomery said while there is an abundance of commercially zoned property in the city, thought should be given to make sure prime commercial space is not lost to housing. An ordinance would help the cause, the city says.
According to the city’s General Plan, which provides a framework and common vision for all future development in Ogden, multi-family hosing, like apartments, is more desirable along transportation corridors. Though the plan is not a mandate and Caldwell says the issue really centers around making common sense decisions.
“Generally speaking, when it comes to housing, we want to have the right balance,” Caldwell said. “We want a number of different housing options, but we want everything to be in the right place and we want a certain quality and (housing) that will last.”
According to the Utah League of Cities and Towns, Ogden has about 30,000 total housing units, with 45% of those being rentals.
Ogden provides 58% of all of Weber County’s rental properties, according to the league. Conversely, Provo and Orem, combined, account for about the same percentage for all of Utah County. Salt Lake City provides 33% of the total rental properties in Salt Lake County.
The Ogden City Council is set to discuss the issue during a Tuesday, Sept. 8, work session.