Weber River 03

The Weber River near the 24th Street bridge flows past the site of the old Swift building in 2019. 

OGDEN — As Ogden City continues to push ahead with significant redevelopment activity in West Ogden, the administration is seeking City Council approval to spend another $1.3 million for continued cleanup work at the Swift Building site there.

The city bought the Swift property in 2017 from Utah-Smith, a business entity connected to Bert Smith, the late founder of local retailer Smith and Edwards Co. The city has long sought to redevelop the land, but the work was delayed after the discovery of a large quantity of chemical materials stored inside the building. The Environmental Protection Agency began cleaning the site in late March 2019 and wrapped up one extensive clean-up project later that year.

Ogden City Comptroller Lisa Stout said $3 million has been appropriated to the Swift project so far and the city has spent almost $2.9 million of that, which funded the property purchase, the building’s demolition that began last spring, asbestos remediation, the previously mentioned environmental work and costs associated with hauling materials and security.

The Ogden Redevelopment Agency is now asking for another appropriation, of $1.3 million (which would come from lease revenues at the city’s Business Depot Ogden business park) to provide funding for additional environmental site work. According to Ogden City Council documents, the work includes subsurface soil sampling, Weber River excavation and buried asbestos remediation. The actual cost of all that work is nearly $1.4 million, but remaining funds needed above the proposed $1.3 million appropriation would come from the balance of previous appropriations, Stout said.

Brandon Cooper, deputy director of Ogden’s Community and Economic Development department, said the requested money is essentially just for site work, and there is still no word if there will be additional expenses for further environmental remediation work, if that’s ultimately deemed necessary. He said the city is working with the EPA to determine who would share those costs. Cooper said those negotiations are ongoing and therefore couldn’t name which parties may be involved.

“Right now there are multiple parties who would share the cost,” he said. “When we know what the bill to the city would be, we would certainly communicate that as soon as possible.”

Located at 390 W. Exchange Road, just north of the 24th Street viaduct, the Swift Building was 103 years old when the city began demolition work last year. The 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.

The property has long been viewed by city officials as a vital component of the West Ogden redevelopment site known as the Trackline Economic Development Area. 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 stockyards were shut down in the 1970s, the area quickly grew dilapidated and had been mostly uninhabited until Trackline was established in 2013.

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, where the Atwater facility will be located. 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.

The Ogden City Council approved a $1.8 million deal in October 2019 to sell the Swift site to Atwater Infrastructure Partners, which plans to build a 125,000-square-foot aerospace manufacturing facility there.

A public hearing on the latest appropriation is set for April 27.

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!