ZCMI said Thursday it will move from its current location on the east side of Washington Boulevard to a larger, remodeled store across the street in the Ogden City Mall.

The plan to keep downtown Ogden a viable business district also includes construction of what is being called a "conference" center - smaller than a convention center - and new downtown headquarters for Weber County in the present ZCMI building.A signing ceremony is scheduled for Friday, 8 a.m., in the mall's center court, despite a lawsuit challenging the county's financing methods for the project.

ZCMI president Richard Madsen said the decision was made "despite considerable enticement" to move the store to Ogden's Newgate Mall on Wall Avenue, where Dillard's will open a new department store this fall.

Madsen said the new two-level ZCMI will include the space formerly occupied by Weinstock's, some surrounding retail area and part of the second floor of the Woodbury building.

"ZCMI has been a mainstay of downtown Ogden, and we intend to continue contributing to that business momentum," said Madsen. "It's been a long-time goal to significantly upgrade and enhance our Ogden store and parking structure and, while we considered many options, we agreed on a plan that is mutually beneficial to the community and our customers."

Woodbury Corp., which owns part of Ogden City Mall, will buy the present ZCMI building and will lease three-quarters of it, after remodeling, to the county. The remaining quarter will be privately leased.

Madsen said the new ZCMI will be open by fall, in time for the holiday shopping season. It will include an expanded furniture store, making the operation larger than the former Weinstock's. It will also include a new Tiffin Room, beauty salon, snack bar and bakery.

Ogden officials voted to share equally with the county the subsidy of any conference center operating losses greater than $250,000 a year. The agreements call for Weber State University to operate the center and cover up to $250,000 in losses.

The lawsuit, filed June 3 in 2nd District Court by a small group of county residents, claims the county's plans to issue lease-revenue bonds for the $19.8 million center without a public vote violates the Utah Constitution because it is an "unneeded" project.

The bonds, up to $23 million, are planned as a joint issue to finance the county office complex, as well.

Weber County Attorney Mark DeCaria said he may file a motion to dismiss the suit by next week. He said he also would ask the court for accelerated hearing dates to resolve the case quickly. There is a possibility the bonds will be delayed, DeCaria said.

The agreements to be signed do not bind the county if bonds cannot be issued, but the county has given Woodbury Corp. $150,000 in nonrefundable earnest money toward purchase of the ZCMI building.

The agreements also include a complex tri-party contract between the city's redevelopment agency, Woodbury and the mall that would transfer Woodbury's building in the mall to the RDA as a "donation."

In exchange, the RDA would assume Woodbury's $3.2 million debt on the building. The RDA will lease the property back to the mall at essentially no charge, and the mall will forgive the city's obligations to maintain the city-owned parking terrace behind the mall.

The maintenance costs currently are about $3 million annually, with projected $300,000 annual cost increases through 2015.