OGDEN – Ogden’s planning commission is seeking big changes to the historic Stockyard Exchange building to entice developers to undertake a potentially costly renovation to the building, which has been out of use since the 1980s.
At a town council business session last Tuesday, members of council expressed concern over proposed changes to design standards in the Historic Business Interchange Area, a small area on the west side of Ogden consisting of of three plots of land.
“It’s the only area of town that’s BEH and that’s for this building and we’re going to deviate from the norm,” Councilor Richard Hyer said.
Among the changes proposed for the restoration of the existing building and the addition of a restaurant are increasing the maximum height of the building and reducing parking requirements.
The parking lot and the height of the buildings are of particular concern to the members of the municipal council. Councilwoman Marcia White said shared parking in the area, as proposed, could be a problem, with heavy traffic at other nearby businesses such as Ogden’s Own Distillery.
“Having plenty of parking there is a sign of success,” said Barton Brierley, Ogden’s town planning officer. “It’s exciting.”
According to Brierley, the highest parking usage in the area occurs in the evening, which would provide spaces for the future building during off-peak hours.
To mitigate potential parking issues, a parking management plan is proposed, which could include bicycle storage, bus passes, employee carpooling, or an employee shuttle.
Enable Utah, located just east of the Stockyard Exchange building, handles employee parking and travel with a direct route to the facility.
“If they put in the required parking, they would have parking and no plans,” Brierley said of the roughly 200 spaces mandated by current zone standards.
With the BEH area design standards including a maximum building height of 20 feet, the planning commission asks the city council to consider a building measuring 45 feet in front with a setback of 15 feet carrying the total rear height from the building at 60 feet.
As it stands, the Stock Exchange building stands 27.5 feet, a height that Brierley said would be of little benefit to any developer who needed additional rental space to offset the historic building’s costly renovations.
Brierley said the commission would like to offer a developer extra height as an incentive due to excess resources needed to bring the building up to code.
Area restrictions on height, established long after the building was constructed, would have been put in place to keep the Stockyard Exchange building the focal point of the neighborhood and to prevent developers from obstructing people’s view.
Councilor Angela Choberka expressed concern about the lack of fairness in allowing a height increase for the Stock Exchange building when the only two other buildings in the BEH area were not allowed a height increase.
If approved, the amendment would give existing developments the option to build higher.
However, historic design standards that are not debated include clerestory windows, building form, and building materials. According to the National Parks Service, which maintains the National Register of Historic Places, additions to historic buildings should differentiate old work from new work.
“You don’t want it to look like a fake historic building,” Brierley said.
Councilman Richard Hyer said he was hesitant to support the proposed changes without first having renderings to review. Renderings of the future building should be ready for viewing by the time the proposed amendments are presented to the Monuments Commission on Thursday.
City Council Vice President Luis Lopez said he didn’t feel he had enough information about the project, adding that the details he had made him nervous.
Council members will receive a copy of the renderings for review as well as the recommendation of the landmarks commission before voting.