Monday, November 01, 2010

New Downtown Businesses and Faux Trolleys Coming Soon

Part of a forward trend for downtown, or just a temporary lurch?

By Dan Schroeder

With all the recent election-related news, this blog almost overlooked two interesting items in the Thursday Standard-Examiner.

First was this article in the Business section, describing in more detail than ever before the plans to open three new outdoor equipment shops in downtown Ogden: Recreation Outlet at 2324 Washington; Ogden ROX at 2314 Washington; and G4G Adventure Sports and Gear at 2348 Kiesel. All three are promised to open around mid-November, and should be welcome additions to The Junction and the block just across from it on Washington Blvd.

The article also mentions that a pair of affiliated software companies, DAKCS and PDC4U, have recently relocated from Mount Ogden Plaza (near St. Benedict’s Manor and Mt. Ogden Park) to the new Wells Fargo Building in The Junction. Although this relocation doesn’t appear to be any net gain for Ogden, it does lessen the embarrassment caused by that brand new building being mostly empty and previously attracting only two tenants, both from across the street.

The gradual leasing of empty space in and around The Junction is, of course, good news for downtown Ogden. Let’s hope these latest additions are part of a continuing trend, and not just a temporary forward lurch.

Meanwhile, hidden in the Weber Plus section of Thursday’s paper, at the bottom of the monthly Ogden City advertisement, was another interesting item:

Yes ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, Ogden’s rubber-tired faux trolleys will soon be up and running! Regular readers will recall that Mayor Godfrey harassed the Weber Area Council of Governments for several months until they finally relented in August and agreed to fund this demonstration project for one year, signing over $175,400 of transportation sales tax revenue for this purpose. To access this pot of funds, all parties had to agree to call the project a “study”, intended to measure ridership potential for the proposed streetcar between downtown and WSU. I’ve been trying to obtain more information from regional transportation officials about how this “study” will be conducted and what they’re hoping to learn, and will post an update here whenever they answer my inquiries.

For now, however, patrons of downtown Ogden can enjoy the faux trolley ride around Historic 25th Street, Washington Blvd., The Junction, and the Intermodal Hub. The ride will be free, with service every 20 minutes. The northern limit of the route was originally supposed to be 20th Street, but it sounds like that has been changed to 21st or even 22nd. Now let’s see... How long would it take to walk from 22nd Street to 25th?


Curmudgeon said...

Ah, I wondered what happened to the Mayor's Toonerville Bus project. I got off Frontrunner a week ago Saturday, in the rain, and didn't see any sign of it. Hasn't started operating yet then.

Dan S. said...

In August they said the faux trolleys would be up and running in two months. So they're late, but not a lot by Godfrey standards.

great cesares ghost said...

Hi Rudi,
Did you see the Drip Advertisement in the standard examiner today.
Boy did I get it kick out of it.
This would be a great place to put this up for tomorrow.

Pedal pusher said...

I don't see how a bus that circulates downtown could be used to gauge ridership interest in a route that se4rves a completely different purpose.

BTW, it takes a lot less than 20 minutes to walk from 22nd to 25th and we all are better off parking farther away and walking longer.

While I'm giving unsolicited advice, I would suggest some bike racks for the east side of Washington Boulevard. It seems like a better idea than spending $60,000 if our tax dollars to pave a privately owned parcel for a parking lot that would have an indefinite and potentially very short life span.

Curmudgeon said...

Part of what I think is the poor route design of the Godfrey's Toonerville Bus is that it runs in only one direction. [Ogden Station to 25th at Lincoln, up 25th to Washington, north to 20th or 21st or 22nd [a little vague what the latest configuration is], then back to Ogden Station.] So, riding it from anyplace between Lincoln and 25th and say The Junction on Washington will be fairly convenient. But if you want to go West on 25th, you'd have to ride the whole loop around to get back to anyplace further west [at most, 2 blocks from where you board] on 25th.

Even if the idea was a study of an exclusively downtown circular route, the one-way element would render it not very useful for that purpose, seems to me.

Of course, these buses won't be bringing people from other parts of the city to downtown businesses, so I guess they'll be OK with the Historic 25th Street Merchants Association whose members don't want buses bringing people downtown to shop in their stores and restaurants.

Danny said...

Note that the only reason these businesses are locating in Downtown Ogden is so they can lie face down in a slop trough of taxpayer money Godfrey and the city council gave them. Yes, people will come to Godfreyland if you pay them enough.

ozboy said...

Does any one hereabouts think that there is that much demand for the kind of merchandise that all three of these stores will be carrying?

Aren't there a lot of other stores in and around Ogden, including the big discounters, that sell the same stuff?

Would a bank, or any other lending institution, take a flyer with any of these three companies, especially considering the competition they will all pose to each other?

If not, does any one think it prudent that the stewards of our tax money - the city government - should make the same investment/subsidy?

Dan S. said...

As some will recall, WACOG approved the funding for the faux trolley partly because Wasatch Front Regional Council agreed in writing to use this demonstration project to "study in detail the potential route and ridership of a downtown circulator." So I wrote to WFRC in August and asked them to confirm this and to describe the details of how the study would be conducted. They confirmed their intent to collaborate in developing the study protocols, but explained that the details hadn't yet been worked out.

So Friday, after seeing the announcement in the paper, I emailed WFRC again and asked for the details. Guess what? They've done nothing on it in the last two months! So either they won't be participating after all, or their "participation" is in name only, and they're actually just letting Godfrey run the "study" however he wants.

Curmudgeon said...


On your latest post: I hate to keep repeating myself, but shouldn't a daily newspaper be reporting this kind of thing rather than a blogger [or as I guess the DN wants to call them now, "citizen journalist"]? That the announced terms under which the money was granted are apparently being ignored by the granting agency two months in and a week short of the "study" beginning seems a reasonably news-worthy matter to me. Certainly worth sending a reporter to ask a few questions about, que no?

UP not DOWN said...

What is it with you guys? Down with the trolley. Down with the 3 new stores. Down with the Administration and its investing in Ogden. Down with the Junction. Down with the Velodrome. Down with the River project. Down with WalMart. Down with Downtown. Down with the whole freaking scha-meel!

Ba-gee-zust, people. Relax. Things have a way of working out. So far, all this bitching and griping hasn't done much to stem the tide. It's been a natural course of events that gets any credit due.

Again, take a deep breath and RELAX. Things will be fine.

You Guys said...

Up not Down:

Its not a trolley, they are not all "new stores", you cannot invest money you do not have, the junction really sucks cash and LOLs, the velodrome needs to pay for its self or go away, the river project is over budget and over schedule and a financial fiasco, walmart is fugly and low-class,

Up with Fiscal responsibility, Up with Downtown.

Down with Godfrey and his misty-eyed schemes.

best wishes,
You Guys

Dan S. said...

Update: I've received another email from WFRC, with some very minimal information about the faux trolley "study":

1. UTA will look at monthly bus ridership counts to see if their ridership drops as a result of the new service.

2. The ridership on the faux trolley will be counted by the drivers.

3. At least one survey will be taken of the riders, after the service has had some time to become established.

That's it! Three vague ideas with no specific protocols and no specifics on what they're hoping to learn. I've replied with a list of follow-up questions, and will continue to report their responses.

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