Ogden mayor seeks focus on single-family home development, less emphasis on apartments

An apartment building photographed Wednesday takes shape on 12th Street in Ogden. Ogden Mayor Ben Nadolski has announced plans to seek an ordinance change to encourage less apartment growth and more single-family home development.

An apartment building photographed Wednesday takes shape on 12th Street in Ogden. Ogden Mayor Ben Nadolski has announced plans to seek an ordinance change to encourage less apartment growth and more single-family home development. (Tim Vandenack, KSL.com)


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OGDEN — As more and more apartments take shape in Ogden, Mayor Ben Nadolski is launching a new effort to put a greater emphasis on single-family home construction.

Apartment construction is strong in many locales across northern Utah, including Ogden, South Ogden, Clearfield and West Haven, to the chagrin of some who pine for more single-family homes. West Haven leaders, notably, tweaked their zoning ordinances and planning guidelines a few years back to curb a spate of apartment development in the fast-growing locale.

"Our goal is to provide diverse and balanced housing options across housing types, locations and affordability levels. And the data shows that our citizens need and want to buy single-family homes, especially first-time homebuyers," said Nadolski, who took office in January.

The push is just starting, but Nadolski's broad proposal — which will eventually face scrutiny from Ogden planning commissioners and the City Council in the form of a proposed zoning ordinance change — is to curb new apartment development in commercial areas of more northerly and southerly Ogden along Wall Avenue and Washington Boulevard. He also singles out 12th Street.

Such areas, said Mike McBride, spokesman for the Nadolski administration, don't always have the infrastructure — sidewalks and parks, for instance — for apartment dwellers.

Instead, Nadolski's vision is to promote multiple-family housing in "appropriate areas" like the downtown zone, focus of several redevelopment efforts under the city's Make Ogden plan, and areas that allow for a mix of residential and commercial development. Under the Make Ogden vision, a large chunk of a city block south of Historic 25th Street is to be redeveloped with apartments, retail outlets, a new hotel and more. The area around nearby Union Station is also to be redeveloped with high-density housing, retail and more.

Ogden has been "an attractive market" for rental developments, the city said in a statement, but the end result of existing development rules and guidelines is housing shortages in some areas and "excessive buildouts of apartments" elsewhere.

The availability of apartments, particularly in structures three stories or larger, outpaces need, "but the opportunity for single-family (homes) does not keep up with the future need," McBride said. With available real estate at a premium, he went on, "Our challenge is to use the current space that we have to transition that to single-family and homeownership opportunities."

Steve Waldrip, senior adviser for housing strategy and innovation for Gov. Spencer Cox, echoed McBride's concern about declining land availability and the upshot to new home development.

"Ogden has very little developable land left, which means they have to be very intentional about what they do with the land they have, and they can't just hope for homes that their kids and grandkids can afford," Waldrip said in a statement released by the city. Nadolski's proposal — still to be hammered out — is "a key step to creating more opportunities for affordable homeownership in Ogden."

The city will seek public feedback on the plans, once formulated, starting with a July 3 Ogden Planning Commission meeting. Parallel to Nadolski's more immediate push for ordinance change, Ogden will be considering broader changes over the long haul to its general plan, which guides development in the city.

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Utah growth and populationUtah housingUtahPoliticsWeber County
Tim Vandenack covers immigration, multicultural issues and Northern Utah for KSL.com. He worked several years for the Standard-Examiner in Ogden and has lived and reported in Mexico, Chile and along the U.S.-Mexico border.

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