In August of 2017, the City Council, acting as the Redevelopment Agency Board, authorized the purchase of the Swift Meat Packing Building in West Ogden. This building, located next to the historic Ogden Stockyards and the Kayak Park at the Weber River, is at a major gateway into our City. The building was vacant for decades, was being used for indoor and outdoor storage, and was in a dangerous state of disrepair. Overall, the building presented a poor image to visitors and residents alike and was a danger to the public’s safety.
The Board was initially informed that the cost of the building would be more than $1.03 million, which was presented as a discounted price for the environmental remediation that would be required. However, the Mayor’s administration contracted with an environmental consultant to conduct an environmental assessment and concluded that remediation would be significantly more than originally estimated. The purchase price was then renegotiated down to $400,000, which reflected the estimated cost of $600,000 for the additional remediation. Based on this information, the Board authorized a total budget of $2.2 million for purchase, remediation, and demolition.
The Mayor’s Administration asked the EPA to conduct the remediation efforts. The EPA has been on site since April 2019. Under federal law, the EPA will complete the remediation and then bill all responsible parties for their portion of cleanup costs. At this point, the Board has not received any information regarding additional costs to Ogden City. There has been criticism over the Board’s approval of a real estate purchase contract that included a liability waiver for the seller. The Board was informed that the seller required the waiver before accepting the discounted purchase price, which is why the environmental consultant was hired during the due diligence period. Without the waiver, the City could not have purchased the property and the building would have continued to decay and threaten the safety of the public—perhaps for several more decades.
Based on the information provided at that time, the Board felt that Ogden would benefit substantially from the purchase, remediation, and demolition of the Swift Meat Packing Building. A few of those benefits are as follows:
- Protect the safety of the public and Ogden’s first responders
- Protect the river by removing dangerous contaminants from the site
- Facilitate plans that are underway for ecological restoration of the Weber River
- Improve a major entry corridor to downtown Ogden
- Revitalize West Ogden
- Provide a desirable site for new development
The Board is concerned about the potential for additional costs to remediate this property and will continue to be thoughtful in considering additional proposals that may be related to this. Based on the information available to the Board at the time of its initial decision, and after weighing the costs against the benefits of acquiring the property or doing nothing, the Board stands by its decision to purchase the property.