OGDEN — One of the most notorious sections of Ogden during the past decade is ready for a transformation.
Ogden City is developing a plan to build a new plaza at 445 25th St. — currently an empty lot that sits directly east of the 94-year-old, historic Bigelow Hotel and immediately west of The Monarch.
Sara Meess, a project coordinator with Ogden’s Business Development department, said the city is working with a design firm to develop an “arts-based plaza” that would provide “flexible space for all types of art and a new community gathering place” in the heart of the Nine Rails Creative District.
Meess said a virtual question and answer session on the project is set for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 12.
During the session, Meess said officials will provide some additional details about the project and ask for input on how to shape it. Those interested in the session can join at ninerailsplaza.com/chat. Meess said a survey soliciting input is also available at ninerailsplaza.com and citizens can also provide input by calling or texting 801-810-9270.
As of now, details on the plaza haven’t been solidified, Meess said, which is where the public input comes in.
“We want to hear what people think,” she said. “We want to hear their ideas.”
Meess said the city hopes to have a design for the plaza complete by the end of the year and begin construction soon after that.
Ogden City tore down the old Courtyard Inn Motel late last year to make way for the project.
In 2017, the city bought the dilapidated motel for $970,000 from owners Jayhoun Saissan and Jalal Afnane according to city council documents.
The space is a prime piece of real estate, according to Meess. It sits inside the creative district and is part of Ogden’s Adams Community Reinvestment Area — a redevelopment district that includes a 150-acre section of Ogden between 23rd and 28th streets from Washington Boulevard to Jefferson Avenue. The area includes both commercial retail and residential buildings and many historic properties. The city will use tax increment financing to help fund approximately $124 million worth of construction projects associated with the CRA.
The motel was blighted and crime-ridden for several years before the city purchased it.
In December 2011, former Ogden Mayor Matthew Godfrey ordered the building closed for occupancy after it was cited for multiple violations related to junk and debris, unlicensed vehicles, no smoke detectors and several other safety hazards inside the facility’s rooms.
The motel was brought back to compliance in May 2012 and occupants were allowed back in, but problems persisted. According to council documents, the Ogden Police Department made 71 service calls to the motel between November 2016 and June 2017. The nature of the calls ranged from noise violations and drug use to thefts and assault.
Meess said the new plaza will act as a transition space for pedestrians moving between the Weber County Library area and downtown.
It will sit in the heart of the creative district, which is meant to function as a centralized hub for arts and culture. Ogden Deputy Director of Community and Economic Development Brandon Cooper has said the initiative will encourage artists and other creatives to work and live downtown, creating opportunities for the public to engage with the arts.
The Monarch building, which sits just east of the plaza site, opened in November 2019 and includes new space for restaurants, retail and event space, exhibit and collaborative space, and design studios.