Strolling down Historic 25th Street in downtown Ogden might feel like being in a time warp. While you may be heading to one of the locally owned shops to pick up an iced latte, a slice of pizza, or get a haircut, there is a moment where you can get lost in the old-world look of one of the state’s most unique streets. The historicstructures helpmake Ogden’s Central Business District the untamed and vibrate place that it is. Although, just like many older buildings, some could use a little tender love and care.
Ogden Downtown Alliance (ODA) and Weber State University’s Small Business Development Center are offering an opportunity for business owners wanting to enhance their storefronts without footing the entire bill. These façade improvement grants can brighten those fading structures while restoring the historic beauty they add to Ogden. This funding can be up to $5,000, an investment that candramatically enhance the appearance and attractiveness of a business.
Thomas Kiernan, Development Director with Ogden Downtown Alliance says qualifications for the enhancement grants are more narrow than previous years “This year is a little different in that they specified the buildings must be considered old—at least 50-years approximately in age. The reason for this is the Main Streets America Program is helping with preservation of historic sites.”
Ogden was designated a Main Street City through the program last year after Ogden Downtown alliance received approval from Mayor Mike Caldwell and the Ogden City Council. By becoming a designee, ODA gets more assistance from the Main Street America Program, which works to revitalize unique downtown areas in hopes of bolstering locally owned businesses.
The hustle-and-bustle on 25th Street is a key piece to the economic success of Ogden, and a restored storefront is viewed as a welcoming sign to patrons. “An updated façade let’s people know that you are open, you’ll appear more friendly and welcoming for customers. It’s also a good thing when other business owners are seeing their neighbors improve their façade, it helps them want to improve their own business,” explains Kiernan.
If previous years are any indication, Ogden businesses want to improve their buildings. Haille Van Patten, Marketing and PR Manager with Ogden Downtown Alliance works closely with the Main Street Program since it started, and she says each year the application pool widens. “We always have people emailing us asking when funds will be available. We have people emailing us two-months prior to this round asking if we were going to do it again, and when it was happening.” Thus far, ODA has awarded more than $45,000 for façade improvements since 2020. That year all those who applied were fully funded. Now ODA and WSU’s Small Business Development Center are looking to stretch the money farther as more people learn about the grants.
“One of the things that really helps with an application is if somebody is saying ‘I’m going to improve my façade either way, but this would help me go further or help me get it done faster. That’s really helpful on the application,“says Kiernan. “Before we were able to provide the funding on our own discretion and now Main Street American has added in very specific things.” To qualify, a business must be independently owned as well as located within Ogden’s Central Business District which runs from 20th street to 27th street and Wall Avenue to Madison Avenue. This is the first year a business must have already been operating in a building before applying and must use the funds for physical building improvements instead of signage. As previously mentioned, the building must be at least 50 years old.
While façade grants clearly benefit a single business, the change can also affect how the community is viewed by those visiting Ogden. “It’s just like if the lights are on downtown. If you come downtown at night and you see it’s well lit and the areas look clean, people are going to feel more welcomed downtown. It’s the same thing when during the day you walk by a building and it’s busted down and neglected, versus it looks clean and fresh. It totally changes the ambiance of the buildings,” explains Kiernan.
Ogden Downtown Alliance and Weber State’s Small Business Development Center are accepting applications through August 5th of this year, but indicate that applying does not guarantee funding. A committee will select the grant recipients who will then be notified by August 31st. To get further details on the grant criteria go to Facade Improvement Grant Application - Ogden Downtown Alliance.