Ogden’s Historic 25th Street seems to have been brought back to life in recent years as new businesses and restorations have sped up the pulse of downtown. And this new vibrancy may be contagious; it seems to be spreading down Washington Boulevard. I spoke with Ogden City planner John Mayer to find out what lies ahead for the blocks of Washington near 25th Street.
Mayer says the new apartment building going up on 23rd and Washington represents a much larger trend that is affecting all of Ogden’s downtown: “Apartments are a trend nationally and in downtown Ogden. They’re meeting the market niche for millennials, who are not so much interested in homeownership, but want to be in an area with other amenities, bike trails, theaters, things like that.” With more young people moving downtown, the whole face of Ogden is changing to meet not only the housing needs of these residents, but their recreational, cultural, and gastronomical needs as well. Mayer told me about several businesses changing to meet the needs of the times, and I set out to see for myself how Washington Boulevard was adapting to recent trends.
First, I stopped by the Ben Lomond Hotel, a beloved Ogden landmark that was sold to a California investment group in May. Stepping into the lobby, I could immediately see that the new owners will preserve the hotel’s history and place in Ogden’s past and culture, as they told the city they would. The Christmas decorations in the lobby include historic pictures of the area and a poster near the front desk assures guests that the owners “look forward to embracing the past and celebrating the future in Ogden.” At the same time, the owners are remodeling to bring rooms up to date and ensure the hotel will continue to be an integral part of downtown for decades to come. According to one front desk clerk, cosmetic renovations (like new carpet and paint) have begun in rooms on the eighth and ninth floors, and the improvements will continue from the top down.
Conspicuously missing from the Ben Lomond is MacCool’s Public House, an Irish pub-style family restaurant that moved out of the building in July with one last party for customers. Apparently in the process of the hotel sale, the restaurant’s lease ran out and MacCool’s owners were unable to secure a long-term renewal. They chose to close down the Ogden location until a new building could be found to accommodate them. Fortunately for Irish food lovers, however, Ogden hasn’t seen the last of MacCool’s. According to Mayer, A real estate agent has spoken to the Ogden City planning office and indicated that MacCool’s hopes to move into a building on Washington south of 25th street in the near future. An employee at the Layton MacCool’s location said the plan is to reopen in Ogden in April.
Just down the street from Ben Lomond, another business is experiencing a significant expansion. Funk ‘n Dive, a basement dive bar that celebrates the infamous speakeasies of Ogden’s colorful past, will soon be joined by an Irish pub, the Harp and Hound. The new pub will be on street level, where Sea Bears Ogden Fish House was located before it moved to the Union Station. The Irish sports bar will have a fifty-seat bar with a full kitchen for food service and tvs playing sporting events. Owners are currently hiring staff for the new pub and hope to open by the first of the year. The pub will be connected to the Funk ‘n Dive by a door and a stairway, maintaining the speakeasy feel of the downstairs bar. Funk ‘n Dive will also continue to have live music, karaoke, paint night events, poker night, and other activities.
Be sure to visit Washington Boulevard in the coming months; you may not recognize it, but you’ll have plenty to do, a place to stay, and some great Irish dining options.