Ogden could block most new apartments in some commercial zones

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OGDEN — Ogden City officials have unveiled an ordinance that would block most new apartment buildings in some commercial zones that have been popular with developers in recent years. City officials say they want to promote for-sale housing options instead. 

Ogden Mayor Ben Nadolski and his administration announced Tuesday they will propose an ordinance that, if passed, would limit new apartments from being built in specific areas of the city.

“Our goal is to provide diverse and balanced housing options across housing types, locations, and affordability levels,” Nadolski said in a news release Tuesday. “And the data shows that our citizens need and want to buy single-family homes, especially first-time home buyers.” 

Ogden Mayor Ben Nadolski

Specifically, the proposed ordinance would impact Community Commercial (C-2/CP-2) and Regional Commercial (C-3/CP-3) zones. Those zones allow a wide range of commercial uses by-right, including hotels and multifamily housing.

Between 2020 and 2023, Ogden City issued over 2,000 new dwelling units, and the vast majority — 96% — were for multiple-family dwelling units or townhomes, while only 3% were for single-family dwellings, according to the city. About a third of newly-built apartments in Ogden have been built in C-2/CP-2 or C-3/CP-3 zones.

Those types of zoning are largely found along Washington Boulevard and Wall Avenue, north of 18th Street and south of 27th Street. The zoning can also be found along 12th Street and Harrison Boulevard. 

In an email Wednesday, Mike McBride, an Ogden City spokesperson, said the city needs as much housing as it can get, but its biggest need now is for single-family homes.

“While the greatest need has been for apartments, Ogden has been able to accommodate these needs and will continue to for at least the next 20 years,” McBride said in an email. “On the other hand, Ogden has seen very little construction of new single-family and ownership housing. This is Ogden’s most pressing need now and into [the] coming decades.” 

The proposal stands in contrast with a common development pattern along the Wasatch Front, where developers have typically taken advantage of commercial zoning along larger roads to build dense, multifamily housing. The same has been true in Ogden.

In recent years, several apartment buildings have sprung up along major Ogden roads, like The Carlo at Washington apartments and Wall and 17th apartments. Those apartment buildings, which added over 300 units to the city, are currently in CP-3 and C-3 zones, respectively. 

The proposed ordinance would limit similar projects, as the city said in a news release that previous approaches have led to “excessive build-outs of apartments” in some parts of the city and housing shortages in others. 

If the ordinance passes, apartments could only be built in C-2/CP-2 and C-3/CP-3 zones if they would be for senior multifamily dwellings, a mixed-use project of at least 10 acres — which plots of that size are in short supply for those areas — or for multifamily dwellings along Harrison Boulevard near a station for OGX — Ogden’s new bus rapid transit route.

The ordinance would only impact future developments, and it would not interfere with ongoing projects under construction or any application filed before the proposed ordinance was posted last week, the city told Building Salt Lake.

If passed, the ordinance would indefinitely block new apartment buildings in the C-2/CP-2 and C-3/CP-3 zones, according to McBride.

The proposed ordinance also seems to have state support. Steve Waldrip, senior advisor for housing strategy and innovation for Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, said the ordinance is, “a bold move, and it’s the right move.”

“It’s a key step to creating more opportunities for affordable home ownership in Ogden,” Waldrip said in the city news release. 

While Cox set a goal of getting 35,000 homes built in the next five years, he has made clear he prefers single-family, for-sale housing as opposed to rental units.

City officials will hold public meetings and seek local input in the coming weeks. Members of the public can voice their opinions on the project during the next Ogden City Planning Commission meeting, which will take place at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, July 3 at the Ogden Municipal Building. The meeting will be held in the city council chambers on the third floor. 

Email Jacob Scholl

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