Laying the groundwork for Union Station redevelopment


Ogden Union Station. (Image: railsr4me, Flickr)

One hundred and fifty years after the completion of the transcontinental railroad near Ogden, Utah, the city hopes to use the celebration of the railroad’s milestone and the preservation of Union Station to jump start a major urban renaissance. The mostly undeveloped area around the station is the setting for a 20 year plan that will incorporate a vision for housing, office space, and green space proximate to the Weber River.

The plan however hinges on three issues related to the properties around Union Station. First is that Ogden’s FrontRunner commuter rail station—which sits across the street from Union Station—has recently been chosen as one of the Utah Transit Authority’s transit oriented development sites, scoring high under the points system created for the agency to work with outside interests on joint development. Plans for a bus rapid transit line and increased commuter rail frequency to Salt Lake City could improve the ability of the area to attract more development as well.

Second is that much of the land around Union Station is owned by Union Pacific. The company hasn’t indicated which direction they believe the plan should go or whether they will sell or lease the land to the city and Union Pacific can’t comment prior to publication of SEC documents. But local officials wonder if more freight rail activity will occur given recent action by the Utah legislature to allow the Utah Inland Port Authority to establish “ports” outside of their main hub at Salt Lake Airport.

And finally, the area of the rail yards has been federally designated as an opportunity zone where investors are eligible for capital gains tax breaks if they make investments in the area. This has been a big topic of discussion in urban areas around the country and it will be interesting to see whether the promise of new capital can spark greater investment near the station.

A plan has also been created by students at the Utah State University which creates a great baseline for any future thinking about the potential of the area. For more information on visioning and planning for larger TOD districts, check out the resources library to find out more about Envision Utah’s TOD guidelines as well as the Transit Street Design Guide from NACTO for tips and tricks on how to create better streets and design.

What’s new on the pod?

This month on Building Better Communities with Transit we’re joined by Maritza Pechin, a planner with AECOM who works with city staff in Richmond on long-range planning. On the podcast, Maritza talks about the Pulse and the broader bus network redesign that was rolled out at the same time. In a wide ranging conversation, Jeff Wood and Maritza discuss how the new system is bring people back to transit, how the city might tackle housing affordability, and what big ideas the city is considering for the future. Catch this episode on Soundcloud, Stitcher, iTunes, Overcast or wherever you get your podcasts.

Recent TOD news

Here are a few things that have been happening this week with TOD projects across the country.

  • 100 percent affordable TOD is moving forward (Streetsblog Chicago)
  • Where will development happen near the purple line? (WAMU)
  • Lone Tree light rail expansion will power development for years to come (Denver Post)
  • How the Port Authority uses transit to encourage development (Next Pittsburgh)
  • Communities adapting to changes along Red Line BRT (Indianapolis Star)