OGDEN — A half-dozen or so entities have so far expressed interest in buying the Weber Center, the current seat of Weber County government, and two or three of them are still interested, says Weber County Commissioner Gage Froerer.
Accordingly, county officials — mulling a move from the downtown Ogden building to new digs elsewhere — are in the process of contracting with a real estate broker to aid in the process. “They would be the county’s representative and market the building,” Froerer said.
Whether the county indeed ends up leaving the Weber Center at the northeast corner of 24th Street and Washington Boulevard remains to be seen. But the process is taking another step forward as county commissioners move ahead with selection of a broker.
Froerer said whether the county sells and moves to a new location depends in part on any offer. The county owns a 75% stake in the building at 2380 Washington Blvd. while Woodbury Corp. owns the other 25%. “Obviously, it’s all going to come down to dollars and cents,” he said.
The inquiry into the matter is for real, though. “The decision’s been made that we need to look seriously at another location,” Froerer said.
Likewise, County Commissioner Jim Harvey said the county government doesn’t necessarily need to be at such a prime, high-profile location. With the planned expansion of the 24th Street exit onto Interstate 15 west of the city in the years to come, the West 24th Street corridor will become more of a vital link into the city center.
“That will make this corner the 50-yard-line of downtown,” Harvey said. Such real estate, he went on, may be more apt for the private sector, an entity that will generate property tax revenue, unlike a government operation.
Talk of moving from the Weber Center emerged earlier this year stemming in big part from the potential cost the county would face in rebuilding the parking structure on the east side of the Weber Center. The county demolished the structure because it is aging, and instead of incurring the considerable cost of rebuilding it, perhaps $15 million-$20 million, started investigating the idea of leaving the building altogether.
What to do with the parking lot space would be left to the buyer, should the county go that route, and the county could use proceeds from the sale of the Weber Center to build anew. Sale proceeds — perhaps $12 million-$15 million, Froerer thinks — could be enough to cover the cost of a new building, Harvey said, preventing the need to bond.
Though county officials hope to select a broker within the next month or so, searching out a would-be buyer could take longer, perhaps a year, Froerer said. The move to new digs could take longer. Initially, six entities expressed interest in the Weber Center and two or three of them maintain interest.
Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell said city officials are aiding the county in a search for a replacement location. He would like county government offices to remain in or around the downtown area, in part because of the close working relationship between city and county leaders. “We work so close on so many different things,” Caldwell said.
The county plans to replace the three-level parking structure it demolished east of the Weber Center with a surface parking lot, which could be done by December.