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It would seem that some city planners want to turn downtown Ogden into a mini version of Salt Lake City, especially with all the recent developments and revivals near The Junction area. The most recent of these is a new apartment complex that will be completed by 2015.
We see a few potential problems with all these new developments. One of these is parking issues. With ample parking located in the two garages on the east side of Grant Avenue, parking isn’t an issue for folks visiting the movie theater or dining at the array of restaurants at The Junction. But this new apartment complex, which will feature 128 family units and an additional 4,000 square feet of retail and commercial space on the street level, will be built on top of an already existing parking lot.
This lot, located on the corner of 23rd Street and Washington Boulevard, currently serves employees and customers who frequent the stores on the east side of Washington — Zion’s Bank, Rec Outlet, Uptown Chic and The Junction. Taking parking away from these businesses could hurt them, and cause customers to support businesses elsewhere.
If this apartment fills up with families as planned, where will they park? Will underground parking be part of the development plan? Rooftop parking won’t be an option, because the new apartments will feature a rooftop pool. This will be the first rooftop pool in Ogden, and will feature views of the temple and The Junction rooftops. What a view!
Another new retail/apartment complex is currently under construction on the corner of 25th Street and Jefferson Avenue, across from the Weber County Library’s main branch, as well as a new development on 27th Street and another on 26th Street. These new developments need to be completed and then filled with businesses and renters before another complex should be built.
Already, some units in The Junction are empty, and businesses that aren’t restaurants are struggling. Apartment units built above the Deseret Book store and Pizza Factory remain empty, as do many of the apartments above the shops in The Junction. “Build it and they will come” is a silly argument when these buildings remain unused by Ogden’s supposedly thriving downtown population.
In order for these new apartments to promise the walkability they advertise, residents need to have access to more than just movie theaters, Mormon temples and hotels with expensive restaurants. Residents need walkable access to buy groceries, clothing and other living essentials. But we know building another Walmart closer to downtown is NOT the answer.
Salt Lake City’s downtown area is full of life and vitality, but there is hardly anywhere to park that won’t cost an arm and a leg. We, as Weber State University students, understand the importance of parking, and value a prime spot above our firstborn. We like Ogden’s current effort to apply ample free parking for its downtown attractions.
Instead of destroying parking lots to make room for more empty apartments, Ogden’s city planners should consider revamping the existing older buildings on Washington Boulevard. Ogden could apply the same revival efforts we see on Historic 25th Street to the rest of Washington Boulevard. Filling these vacant historic buildings should be a higher priority than building new vacant ones.