OGDEN – After more than two years of planning and preparation, construction began on the centerpiece of the up-and-coming creative district in downtown Ogden City.
On Friday the groundbreaking ceremony took place for the Dumke Arts Plaza, a new public meeting place at 445 25th St., immediately east of the historic Bigelow Hotel. Those involved in the $ 8.3 million project say the plaza will act as a gateway between downtown and the east-central neighborhoods of Ogden and serve as one of the main attractions of the city’s Nine Rails Creative District.
As part of a larger initiative called the Adams Community Reinvestment Area, the city’s goal with Nine Rails is to create an epicenter for arts and culture in Ogden.
The square will offer flexible open spaces for large-format art installations, performances, and other art-based activities. a ramp leading to a raised platform; a large LED screen; a water feature; and a “Smart Grid” – a pole system that provides lighting and power connections that support different installations and services. There is also a plan for a large “Gateway Sculpture” to stretch across 25th Street near the plaza.
Several companies are involved in the project, from the city to Weber State University to Ogden Contemporary Arts and Weber County RAMP. Massachusetts-based Sasaki is the design director of the project, but local firms such as Union Creative Agency and IO Landarch are also involved in the project. Centerville-based Hogan & Associates Construction is the prime contractor.
The Dr. Ezekiel R. and Edna Wattis Dumke Foundation, after which the place is named, donated 2.2 million US dollars to the project.
In short, the facility will integrate art into daily life in the city with art events and installations curated by WSU, as well as concerts and film screenings. Daily activities like lunch will also be an integral part of the operation.
“It’s an effort to build community, improve a neighborhood, attract new customers to businesses old and new, and fuel the creativity of our citizens,” said Cori Anderson, president of the OCA board of directors. “To do this, we use the most overlooked but innovative tool there is – and that is the art. … this is a big next step for Ogden. “
The square was once the rundown, old Courtyard Inn Motel, bought by the city in 2017 and later demolished. The motel had been rundown and criminal for several years before the city bought it.
In December 2011, former Ogden Mayor Matthew Godfrey ordered the closure of the building after it was cited of multiple trash and debris violations, unlicensed vehicles, no smoke alarms, and various other security risks in the facility’s premises. The motel was brought back into line in May 2012 and residents were allowed back inside, but problems persisted. According to council records, Ogden Police made 71 service calls to the motel between November 2016 and June 2017. The nature of the calls ranged from noise violations and drug use to thefts and bodily harm.
Current Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell said the square will continue to redesign the 25th Street area immediately east of Washington Boulevard. Creative spaces like the Monarch Building and Argo House are already up and running in the area and have started the transformation Caldwell speaks of, but the Art Square is becoming a significant and important piece of real estate between downtown and the city’s other developments fill in east, said the mayor. Caldwell described the place as “a shining beacon for Ogden”.
“This was really a collective effort by a number of different people,” he said. “I think back to a handful of years when this was a problem for us and the police were here the whole time. … When we start to gather again this will be a phenomenal space for it and we will be very excited about it. “
Sara Meess, senior manager for Ogden City’s business development division, said construction on the square is expected to be completed by the fall.