OGDEN — The city of Ogden is one of five locations nationwide picked to host a new housing development targeting the increasingly ubiquitous segment of people working from their homes.
The proposed Electric Alley development, jointly submitted by Outlier Realty Capital and Powder Development, would take shape on what’s now city-owned property to the rear of the businesses fronting the north side of 25th Street between Wall and Lincoln avenues. Powder Development is affiliated with Powder Mountain and the plans potentially envision involving the ski resort somehow, though the connection hasn’t been fully fleshed out.
More generally, the aim of the Remote Work Hub initiative here in Ogden and the other site locations is to create space where the growing population of those working from home can live, work and socialize, boosters say.
“We’re interested because we think remote work is going to become more and more common,” said Brandon Cooper, deputy director of community and economic development for Ogden. The city’s hope is for a development “that allows remote workers to thrive,” drawing more of them here.
The brainchild of the Remote Work Hub initiative is Common, a New York-based firm that designs and manages apartments and other living spaces with a focus on fostering a sense of community. The firm sought proposals from cities across the country, and the Ogden plan was one of five finalists, along with others from New Orleans, Louisiana; Bentonville, Arkansas; Rocky Mount, North Carolina; and Rochester, New York.
Now, the developers behind those five plans — Washington, D.C.-based Outlier and Powder Development in the case of the Ogden initiative — will be able to tap into the expertise of Common’s architects in finalizing their proposals. “We’re moving into workshop mode,” Cooper said, with plans probably finalized by the spring sometime.
Ogden hasn’t committed any funding but is involved because the Electric Alley proposal is consistent with the city’s Make Ogden downtown development initiative, Cooper said. Down the road, the city could potentially provide land for the project or tax-increment financing.
As described and envisioned by boosters, the Remote Work Hub initiative is a forward-looking development model meant to tap into the rising trend of working from home, increasingly common because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It became clear to me that the old way of working — every employee going to the office every day — is no longer the way things will get done, even when we have a fully adopted (COVID-19) vaccine,” Brad Hargreaves, the Common chief executive officer, said in an email. “I also saw how other brands in the creative and technology industries were beginning to declare that they would not be returning to an office at all. I truly believe that the future of city-level economic development is about making cities appealing to workers, not just recruiting major (employers) like the Amazon HQ saga.”
Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell sees potential.
“Fostering a remote work ecosystem in Ogden will aid us in talent recruiting, job creation and the advancement of skills training,” he said. The “remote work infrastructure,” he added, “is definitely viable on a massive scale.”
The forces behind selection of the Remote Work Hub locales were interested, broadly speaking, in secondary markets, according to Cooper. Among the factors that figured in the selection of Ogden, he said, were “lifestyle” offerings here, like the ski resorts and extensive system of mountain trails, and the “unique downtown experience” — that is, all the restaurants and nightlife of 25th Street. He said the area’s strong workforce also boded for Ogden’s selection.
Hargreaves singled out the outdoor recreational offerings around Ogden, notably Powder Mountain.
“Almost immediately, the Ogden proposal stood out to us because it really is an exciting destination,” he said. “The entire proposed development has multiple mixed-use buildings with a lot of amenities and really appealing access to some of the best recreation in the country. Since COVID-19, we’ve seen that the best multifamily amenities are park and recreation access, so I loved the idea that someone can finish up a day of work and then head to the slopes with a new friend they made in their building.”
The Ogden proposal envisions 100-200 units in a complex in the strip of city-owned land between Wall and Lincoln avenues, now mainly used for parking for customers at 25th Street businesses just to the south, according to Cooper.
Other details have to be worked out and pinpointed, though the vision is to create space that appeals to a cross-section of people.
“Ultimately, anyone and everyone will be able to live in the Remote Work Hubs, although the services and layouts will be geared towards professionals who are not going to and from an office every day,” Hargreaves said. “In fact, the hubs will attract all age ranges and family sizes. By mixing layouts and typologies, growing families, single professionals and groups of roommates will be able to attainably live in these buildings.”