Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Miracle! Ogden Lodge to Be Torn Down

The Standard Examiner reports this morning that the Ogden Lodge is being purchased by Property Reserve Inc., the real estate arm of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints.

This is a giant step forward for Downtown Ogden.  Frankly, I am speechless and I will try to do my best to explain why this is such great news.

For starters, there is a pecking order of housing in Ogden City.  As the quality of available housing stock decreases, the quality of tenants that demand such housing also decreases.

For instance, a renovated home with a garage usually attracts someone with a good job and a car.  A home that hasn't been fixed in 30 years will attract someone of less affluence than our previous example.  Then you have small apartments of varying conditions and then finally the Ogden Lodge.  It is a seedy motel. 

The Ogden Lodge has historically been a catch basin for those who won't or can't live in even the lowest income housing arrangements.  One of my properties had a pimp living in it.  He was evicted and I was there for the lockout.  Where did he go?  He walked down the street to the Ogden Lodge and set up camp there.  His story is not an exception.

The seedy-motel business is also a key profiteer in the Poverty Trap cycle.  The tenants are typically those who can afford the least kind of stable housing.  That transient nature comes with a price penalty in the marketplace.  A "studio" unit at the Ogden Lodge rents for about $650 per month.  That is the equivalent to a 3 bedroom apartment in a quiet part of the city.  Yet because tenants can rent it on a weekly basis rather than a monthly one, they pay week after week hoping to save up for a deposit to rent another place.  However, the rents are just sufficiently high enough to keep them from doing so and thus they stay trapped in an over priced housing predicament.  It's also worth mentioning that substance abuse is often the issue that perpetuates this Poverty Trap cycle.  

I found the Standard Examiner article particularly amusing as it tries to paint the church as a heartless Scrooge forcing helpless people into the streets:

Residents of the Ogden Lodge were scrambling to find a new place to live Thursday as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints finalized the purchase of it and plans to demolish the motel to pave the way for future development.

"I don't think they treated us fairly," said Janes, adding he learned only last week that the Ogden Lodge would be closing. "They just dropped it on us."
Keep in mind that the lodge charges weekly and nightly rents.  A week's notice should be sufficient.  If anyone is worried about these tenants not having a place to stay, there are two other low-income hotels less than three blocks away.  I am sure the owners of those institutions will be glad to have the new business. 


Jared Allen said...


Jeff said...

where else should this "caste" of people live? You evicted one, but clearly cant ignore they exsist?

Jeremy Peterson said...


Thanks for the comment. I think the point that most people miss is that, at least in America, we have mobility up or down the social ladder. I think what people misunderstand is that people will modify their behavior to survive in their circumstances. In the case of my tenant, the fewer places there are to live for him to safely operate his pimping business, the less likely he is to operate his business. This gentleman had a real job for some time. He went to pimping because it was easier and faster cash.

We all follow the path of least resistance. If we make it easier to abide by the law than to break it...that's what we'll do. If landlords make it easier for folks with real jobs to rent than for pimps, the pimps drop their business and find real jobs.

Landlords can and should (as I do) implement practices that demand a minimal level of civil conduct from their tenants.

When we look at Ogden today versus 6 years ago, is it better because all the rowdy population moved away? No. It's better because the expectations have been raised. The neighborhoods are now better off because of it.

The problem with the Ogden Lodge was that there was little if any expectation from management for civil behavior.

Jeff said...

Your point is idealistic. My point is there is a percentage of the population that will never act within the bounds of what you define as civil. As the definition of what is civil or not changes by laws and community standards, the percentage of people in prison changes in stride.

I would argue the ill conceived notion (but very popular) that every American should be a home owner, is what drove policies to ultimately created the housing bubble, and ultimately the greatest recession of the century.

Gentrification of urban areas just moves the problem to the next neighborhood.

What makes you think that your "good intent of civility" wouldn't end up with some crazy consequences?

Jeremy Peterson said...


Good point. Perhaps my perspective is a bit idealistic. I believe there is some truth to people modifying their behavior and yet there is some truth to the fact that some people will never change their behavior.

There is that saying: "You can take people out of the slums but you can't take the slums out of the people."

So let's run with this assumption that some folks never change...what affect does urban gentrification have on this population? It would displace those folks who would then follow the path of least resistance to the next agreeable neighborhood. However, it seems this dispersal is likely to be less centralized since there are many neighborhoods that are declining due to their age and due to the traditional life cycle of a neighborhood. Roy east of 2700 West, Sunset, parts of old Clearfield, the Ron Claire neighborhood in Ogden, old Riverdale, ect.

So the next question is: is this dispersal necessarily a bad thing? In my opinion, having a geographic concentration of the disadvantaged in the sheer masses that have occupied Ogden does a great disservice to that population.

Particularly in the context of the LDS Ward system, this is is a huge hindrance to the welfare of the people.

Normally you would like to see those that have time and resources helping those that are in need. In Downtown Ogden, the ratio of helper-to-needy is very lean and so you have alot of people that need help going without it. Having served in church capacities dealing with welfare, I can tell you that it was often like triage at a bus crash.

Perhaps having some of our needy population relocate to more traditional suburban settings would allow for them to receive the help they need since there will be resources there to match the demand.

Kristin - Silver Firs Farm said...

I see this is an old post but I ran across it while looking for info on why the Ogden lodge was demolished.
While I agree it was a seedy motel, I find it sad when old buildings which could have been of use are simply bulldozed over instead of repurposed. I understand the church has money to burn, but I think its a darn shame.

Old hotels such as this can be renovated into luxury boutique hotels, offices, retail (I've seen one turned into a fabulous antique/arts mall), so on. You get the idea.

Unless it was in some way structurally compromised, I find it wasteful.