By Scott Schwebke (Standard-Examiner staff)
Last Edit: Apr 14 2010 - 9:53am

OGDEN -- By a 5-2 vote, the city council, acting as the municipality's redevelopment agency board, agreed Tuesday night to declare a four-block area in the east-central section of the city as blighted.

City council members who voted against the designation were Susan Van Hooser and Amy Wicks.

The blight designation opens the door for development of a proposal to make the area between 20th and 24th streets from Washington Boulevard to Adams Avenue an urban renewal area.

The area would then be eligible for tax increment financing for commercial and residential property owners, which could help spark long-awaited revitalization in the east-central section of the city, said Mayor Matthew Godfrey.

"The only way to revitalize is if we have a tool," he said.

Jonathan L. Springmeyer, vice president of Salt Lake City-based Bonneville Research, which did the study, said the blight designation is needed as a precursor for development of an urban renewal plan.

The blight designation is meant to describe the condition of the area as a whole and is not intended to degrade any single property, he said.

Springmeyer said the area, which encompasses about 37 acres and 204 parcels, qualifies for blight designation because it meets the following standards:

  • SBlt Consists primarily of nongreen field parcels.
  • SBlt Is zoned for urban purposes.
  • SBlt At least 50 percent of the parcels contain non-agricultural or non-accessory buildings intended for residential, commercial or industrial uses.
  • SBlt The present condition or use of the project area substantially impairs the growth of the municipality.

Some property owners who attended Tuesday night's meeting in the packed city council chambers questioned how their individual properties fit in with the blight designation.

John Bowen questioned during the meeting why his building at 2336 Washington Blvd. was mistakenly noted in the blight report as having graffiti.

Springmeyer said the graffiti should have been attributed to a building north of Bowen's, but added the mistake doesn't change the fact that the area is blighted.

Janith Wright, owner of Clifton's, a clothing store at 2254 Washington Blvd., said she also doesn't like the stigma of having her business in a blighted area.

Richard McConkie, the city's executive director of community and economic development, said the development of an urban renewal project proposal will put the east-central area on the pathway to revitalization through the use of tax increment.

"It's not acceptable," he said of the current condition of the area. "It has the potential. The property owners deserve better."

Tax increment financing is the extra property tax revenue generated by new development in a blighted area.

He has also said there are no plans to use an urban renewal project to acquire property in the area through eminent domain.

Related link: This article is a topic of discussion at Weber County Forum.