Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Two Ogden Projects Put on Varying Degrees of "Hold"

Larry Myler's Ogden Midtown Hotel/Waterpark is actually just plain defunct

Just to get the discussion rolling this morning, we'll direct our readers' attention to this revealing Scott Schwebke story, from the front page of this morning's Standard-Examiner.

The story isn't exactly breaking news, but rather reports something most of us already knew or suspected: Stuart Reid's ambitious Ashton Square condo project is on indefinite hold; and Larry Myler's Hotel/waterpark project is now officially defunct. Mr. Reid blames it all on the economy, but Mr. Myler's excuse is far more interesting. And it's not a consequence of Myler's twin "Midtown-branded" financial disasters in Orem and Clearfield. It's all about gondolas (or lack thereof,) Mr. Myler's spokesman, Rob Storey informs us, (with a completely straight face). From this morning's story:

OGDEN — Two major projects touted as shining examples of Ogden’s downtown renaissance are officially off the table.
Midtown Development has canceled plans to build a $115 million luxury hotel and waterpark because it appears a proposal for a twophase gondola system between downtown and Malan’s Basin is dead, Rob Storey, an official with the Orem-based company, said Tuesday.

And the intrepid Scott Schebke provides more:
Midtown’s plans for a hotel at the northwest corner of 23rd Street and Washington Boulevard and a waterpark across the street always hinged on tourism being generated by a gondola system and a proposed resort at Malan’s Basin, Storey said.
“The buzz (about the gondola and resort) definitely attracted us to the area," he said.
And here comes the clincher, an astounding revelation that's never been reported before, (according to our recollection):

Midtown had offered to spend about $15 million in profits to construct an urban leg of the gondola that would have begun at the intermodal hub at 23rd Street and Wall Avenue, stop at the company’s downtown hotel and end at Weber State University on Harrison Boulevard, Storey said. [Emphais added]
How 'bout that? It would appear that Mr. Myler may have been one of those mysterious private financiers the gondolists had been whispering about these past several years.

Quick sidebar to Dave Harmer: We guess it's OK to call off the search for those 275 parking spaces. It's obvious now that this that was just another lame and mendacious excuse.

Sadly, we predict that today's news will provoke groans in what remains of the Emerald City gondolist camp:

And what say our gentle readers about all this?


Jason W. said...

Quite telling is the sentiment from Wayne Peterson, leader of his own Famed Squirrel Patrol, regarding his fairy-tale castle in the woods, built without roads, guarded by dwarves and sewer-serviced via shit orbs underneath THE GONDOLA cars: he cannot undertake this community-saving project because Lying Little Matty Gondola Godfrey refuses to sell his own phony-baloney, lying, thorazine-addled, vest-wearing ass our publicly owned Mt. Ogden Golf Course; that's all Wayne was ever doing, a crooked land deal. With the WSU property being taken off the table long ago, the only way for Wayne to provide these THE GONDOLA freaks with some hope was to steal our golf course. And, after a year, plow it under for a housing development because the schematics cannot work and Wayne is losing money. This is probably why Lying Little Matty has been attempting to sway public opinion away from MO to a sufficient degree that he wouldn't look like the total lying ass that he is to renege on his campaign promise. Never mind the fact that Lying Little Matty Gondola Godfrey can't, with the flourish of his pen that is larger than his arm, give away our public lands at pennies on the dollar. Remember that addled old goofball in the Where Do You Stand? DVD? "He's not going to sell the golf course..." And the teeny-weeny shit tricked 7,500 voters into brainlessly following along, repeating their tired mantra: "Look at all he's done!" As for the brave soldiers in Wayne Peterson's Famed Squirrel Patrol, these onion-reeking Geigerian dolts, they always have been and always will be a bunch of dupes. Wayne now confirms he wants our land, and that's all he's ever wanted. But he's your hero, Godfreyite losers and morons! He's going to save our town with two THE GONDOLAs and a castle without a sewer! You are Geigers, all of you!


Curmudgeon said...

Some other interesting points in the Schwebke article. Reid said 200 people had committed to buy condo units from him, but apparently all of them pulled out this year when the real estate market and economy went south. This suggests what some of us have suspected all along: that his 200 buy commitments came largely not from potential residents, but from investors buying on spec [before construction], hoping to sell at a higher price to actual residents once construction was completed. This is common in hot condo markets which it seems, for the nonce, Ogden is not.

As for the Malan's project, the story reports that says Mr. Peterson is "no longer interested in building the Malan's Basin leg of the gondola because Mayor Matthew Godfrey won't sell him Mount Ogden Golf Course.... Godfrey has said he won't sell the golf course and adjoining property to Peterson because of concerns from residents who fear the city's trail system in the foothills along the East Bench would be adversely affect."

My my my.... I guess the story could have been headlined Godfrey Golf Course Decision Sinks Hotel/Water Park Projects. [Sorry. Couldn't resist.]

Interesting too that Peterson now says the whole Malan's Basin project is "on the back burner" but, Schwebke reports, he declined to explain exactly what that meant, exactly. Kudoes to Mr. Schwebke for pressing for an explanation.

Finally, the Reid announcement is very bad news for downtown Ogden. 200 condo units will now not be built in the foreseeable future. Figure close to 400 residents, then, middle and upper middle class, will not be living downtown, within strolling distance of The Junction restaurants and retail shops [when--- or if? --- they open]. Very bad news indeed. I wonder how the restaurant and retail owners who went in on the promise and expectation of a significant increase in middle and upper middle class condo residents within walking distance of The Junction will deal with the news that that particular change in the demographics of downtown Ogden isn't going to happen anytime soon.

Not good news for Ogden at all.

RudiZink said...

"I wonder how the restaurant and retail owners who went in on the promise and expectation of a significant increase in middle and upper middle class condo residents within walking distance of The Junction will deal with the news that that particular change in the demographics of downtown Ogden isn't going to happen anytime soon."

Good point, Curm.

If these new businesses located in Ogden in reliance upon Godfrey's rosy promises, an action for damages for fraud would be their possible remedy for economic losses.

And I think you're right that Schwebke did an exceptionally good job with this story. Lots of intertwining facts and possible subplots.

Plenty of nutrotious red meat in this story.

Moroni McConkie said...

Thoroughly piqued by Curmudgeon's incessant reminders that outsiders are perceiving Ogden's virtues with nary a gondola in sight, Larry Myler strikes back with this: “The buzz (about the gondola and resort) definitely attracted us to the area."

THWACK!! KA-POW!! Take that, Curmudgeon!

Separately, I wonder what "pulled out" of Ashton Square really means. Had deposit money changed hands, and did Bishop Reid actually write refund checks?

And wait a minute. "Two hundred" potential buyers? The damn place was only projected at 66 units. And the announced construction date was last Aug. 14th. Bishop Reid's high hopes clearly went sour much earlier than the Bear Stearns meltdown.

It's tempting to conclude that "200 buyers" was Val Southwick.

At least Bishop Reid could convert his tumbleweed-infested lot to 275 parking spaces.

what will it costs us said...

Since Earnest Health paid $1.5M for their chunk of land I hope Stuart Reid is paying fair market value on his property to the county. If he is paying less then the citizens are being cheated out of his speculation on property value.
At least empty Golds gym on 25th is still paying taxes.
Could Malans Basin be the high adventure camp ground the mayor was dreaming about. Lets see if he trys to annex it into city limits.

OgdenLover said...

Steven Trimble, author of "Bargaining for Eden" is being interviewed on Public Radio's "Radio West" today. His book discusses private lands in Utah and the history of Snowbasin.

He'll be speaking at WSU in September.

BARGAINING FOR EDEN reading, discussion & booksigning
Wednesday, Sept. 17th 2008, at Noon Lindquist Lecture Room
Kimball Arts Building
Weber State University
3850 University Circle
Ogden, Utah 84408

for further information contact Hal Crimmel:
(801) 626-8044

Steve brings Bargaining For Eden to Ogden, a major setting for these stories. As part of the Environmental Issues Lecture Series, Steve will show slides and read from the book--and take questions from an audience that will surely include some of the voices in the book, citizens who care deeply about Mount Ogden and Snowbasin.

change of subject said...

200,000 people there to listen to Obama's speech? OBAMA Lures Massive German Crowd With Rock Bands, Brats & Beer!

I am sure the two verry popular music artist puting on a free rock concert before the speech in Germany had NOTHING to do with the massive crowd.... considering these bands pull in about that many fans by themselves for a paid concert I think the media has over hyped Obama's world popularity just a little bit. You can check the sources for yourself...,1518,567821,00.html

the second link will give a link to a video so you have an idea of the size of crowd these bands draw.

Curmudgeon said...


I wondered about that 200 buyers number, but figured the SE had better access to numbers than my memory did. If the original design was 66 units, have to wonder what in the world the other 154 "commitments" referred to. Maybe a query to the SE would be a good idea.

I'm also wondering, in the general wreckage of the economy so magnificently engineered by our CEO President and his party, whether the oft-promised and much-touted Lesham-planned huge River Project Development has also gone on some kind of hiatus. Haven't heard of much happening on that front of late, except some grass-cutting at the Lesham Village of Abandoned Houses site.

NYT had a piece two days ago reporting that even businesses that are expanding, and that have first rate credit histories, are finding it hard to get loans from banks. The example was a manufacturer who had orders in hand for the two largest orders his expanding and profitable manufacturing business had ever had, and who was having trouble getting a loan from his usual source of business credit to buy a new machine he needed to fill the orders. His banker told him that just now "we're saying no to everyone."

True, Ogden, not having ridden the real estate speculative bubble up into the stratosphere, is in [relatively] good shape compared to say Las Vegas, Phoenix, and South Florida [which were, as I recall, offered up not too long ago by the Mayor's associates as models Ogden should and would follow if only we'd sell the golf course for a vacation villa village, and build two gondolas]. But still, I have to wonder if the development capital Mr. Lesham might have raised with comparative ease 18 months ago is still there now. Perhaps it is. I hope it is. Ogden will not benefit at all by keeping all that downtown land as vacant lots and Lesham Village's deteriorating abandoned houses.

RudiZink said...

Thanks for the heads-up on Trimble's latest public appearances, Ogdenlover.

For readers who are interested in Mr. Trimble's latest work, BTW, please note that we placed a crass commercial Amazon.Com advertisement at the top of our left sidebar several days ago.

Here's the direct link, for those readers who'd like to buy a copy online, with no muss and fuss right now:

Bargaining for Eden

Tec Jonson said...

As sad as this is for the current state of downtown Ogden, none of this stuff is sustainable and contributes zilch to the future viability. Has anyone got the message yet...growth is not a productivity. It is a cancer. productivity is the only thing that sustains. Home building for the sake of building homes is not productivity. Tourism is not productivity. Ski companies that contract for foreign manufacturing is not productivity. Stuff like farming and manufacturing is productivity. We are in heap of shit.

Tec Jonson said...

productivity begets growth...and not vice versa!!

Jason W. said...

Wayne Peterson, leader of his famed Squirrel Patrol, must long for the halcyon days of yore, when he was traveling across Europe with his (potential) gay lover, Lying Little Matty Gondola Godfrey, holding hands, eating gouda cheese and gazing in wonderment at the community-revitalizing powers of gondolas. Ahhh! Gondolas! Short-deck Geiger and onion-reeking THE SKI IS BEAUTIFUL BLUE must be similarly maudlin about the prospects for the exciting, heady times they forecast: "Hollywood has been talking to Chris Peterson! Some fey 'producer' of bad PR DVDs is going to establish a film department at WSU! We will be one of the world's neatest towns More to come! Ssshhh! It's a secret!"


Just watch and see. said...

I'm moving out of Ogden because of all you lift Ogden people promised me a gondola should I invest here. I will take all my toys and go back to California.

Moroni McConkie said...

Jason: Also in Geiger's forecast was the imminent arrival of Gucci and Prada to our newly chic, boutique-studded, gondola-endowed Alsatia.

Curm: It would appear that Gadi rolleth not in capital at the moment. His River Project languishes in the same purgatory as Ashton Square, Myler's hotel, and Tabish-Van Dyke's failed Ben Lomond Hotel resurrection ... from whose bourne no traveler returns?

dan s. said...

Of course the whole gondola scheme was never feasible so it's ridiculous for Storey to say he's pulling out because the gondola is dead. The discrepancy between his statement and Peterson's ("no longer interested" vs. "back burner") also says something about his credibility and/or Peterson's.

Fifteen million would have covered only a third of the cost of the urban leg of the gondola. I wonder who was supposed to pay the other two thirds.

To think that two years ago, half the town was gaga-eyed over such a fraudulent proposal. Remember when Lift Ogden published its full-page newspaper ad naming all its supporters? Remember their hundreds of "Yes!" lawn signs? Remember when they stormed the City Council chambers chanting "Take the next step!"? Remember when the Chamber of Commerce--business people who should know better--endorsed the whole fraudulent scheme?

spend it if ya got it said...

Ahh yes, the Godfrey house of cards is beginning to fall. The river project is not going anywhere, the Junction is not producing tax revenues as projected. The old hotel project on two-bit stree seams to be going no where, the Ben Lomond re-hab fell through.

I suppose that the boy wonder and his crack team didnt think about the economy going south. I hope they can find a way to make ends meet without porkin us poor tax payers too bad.

I believe that we all told them to not spend beyond our means.

I can hardley wait for the popscicle on 25th, or maybe it will go tits up because of hard times also.

spend it if ya got it said...

Whoops, I forgot the city saving Wal-Mart, where the hell is it? Oh, that's right the under funded criminal from California, was just blowing smoke up everyones assess on that one also.

monotreme said...

Maybe we should just change Ogden's name to

Menda City.

Jason W. said...

But, beloved Dan S., GTrain Wilkerson still has Lift Morons signs in her office windows! She believes, as does hairplugs (now shorn), Short-deck Geiger, who postulated at the MOGC "emergency" meeting that "[Wayne] Peterson doesn't need a golf course to move forward." And Wayne's response today? "I needed to steal your golf course." Also, I finished listening to the replay of the Radio West show and it was fascinating.


Jason W. said...

And let us not forget Short-deck Geiger's admission of living in fear for his family's safety because of those who despise THE GONDOLA.


Ogden Resident said...

Interesting that the developer of the new hotel / condo project slated for 23rd and Washington pulled out because the gondola doesn’t now look like it will be built. I personally feel the reason to pull out was as much due to financial considerations and marketplace timing as it has anything to do with the gondola. But it does point out that Godfrey still has been projecting to developers that the gondola proposal is a go forward project that will be developed in the city.

Following the logic in the newspapers story makes you realize the Godfrey still intends to sell, lease or otherwise give control of the golf course to Peterson. As Rob Storey of Midtown Development stated in the article, his company was willing to commit 15 mil to the urban gondola based on Peterson development of a gondola to Malan Basin. It wasn’t until Peterson put his project on the back burner that Midtown pulled out. The urban gondola was to tie to the mountain gondola (one has to ask if Midtown was still a go, with its 15 mil commitment, would that mean that the Peterson gondola and golf course sale / lease still be in the works?). Clearly the intent to build the gondola to Malan Basin was alive well past the re-election of Godfrey. Well after Godfrey told the people that he would not sell the golf course and yet Midtown was committing to develop the hotel / condo based on the belief that there would be a gondola built, (and Godfrey is still clearly working in that direction with his efforts to redesign the golf course, move the golf course club house to 36th St., remove water storage tanks at 36th St and move them higher up the mountain, and lay new water lines to supply water to developments above the golf course). Clearly Peterson feels he needs to control the golf course to build his gondola and clearly he has stated that he needs to develop homes (on our trail network) for him to afford his gondola and development on Malan Basin. To me at least, the gondola is not dead just on the back burner as Peterson stated. Thus the sale of the golf course is also just on the back burner otherwise Godfrey would not have continued to pitch it to developers such as Midtown.

I think Godfrey’s intent for the golf course, is to have the city build it to Peterson specs then find that we have surplus land to the east of the course (based on the new course layout) that we (the city) can sell to offset some of the costs of developing the golf course. Then later determine that the redesigned golf course isn’t making money and either sell it to Peterson for a song or lease it to him. Peterson would then develop the homes to the east of the course and the people of Ogden would be left there wondering how did this happen, we thought the gondola project was dead and the golf course and trail network was safe.

Stay tuned. Godfrey hasn’t given up, he’s just been delayed.

disgusted said...

watch out for the continued financial support that the junction will need from the city general fund as all of these projects get delayed. remember the rda is supposed to be self funding.

city council should stop funding rda projects with city loans until some of them start carrying their own weight.

Blah blah blah said...

Gondola is Godfrey number one priority. It was said so in a council work session. last fall after the elections.

Curmudgeon said...


I thought the hotel/waterpark developer's stated reason for tanking his projects [which reasons I don't believe]nevertheless illustrated nicely one of the major problems with the whole Godfrey/Perterson two gondola solution from the start. The up-scale vacation villas on the golf course project had to be successful enough that it would raise the money Peterson evidently couldn't raise in the usual commercial markets for his Malan's Basin Development and Up Mountain Gondola. And that project, if it got built, had to succeed well enough to draw enough traffic to mayor's flatland gondola to enable it to at least break even.

Way too many balls in the air at once, so to speak, all of which had to stay airborne for the city gondola to succeed. If any element failed, the city gondola would tank, very expensively. If the Vacation Villas didn't raise enough for Peterson to finance his basin and gondola project, the city gondola would have become a white elephant. If the villas did raise enough, but Peterson's vest pocket ski area and up mountain gondola didn't get built, the Godfrey Flatland gondola would have become a white elephant. And if the Basin project did get built, but failed, the city gondola becomes a white elephant.

Betting on all all those projects succeedng to make the city flatland gondola a success was the equivalent of betting a trifecta at the track. Not a high probability of a successful outcome with so much public money riding on it.

Ogden Resident said...


Couldn't agree more and yet Godfrey continues. It's just amazing.

OgdenLover said...

Can you imagine if Peterson had gotten his hands on the golf course and had started to build his upscale retirement condos? With the current financial situation, we would be stuck with a bunch of unfinished, unsold houses. Kind of an upscale (until the grass got too high) version of Leshamville on the East Bench.

loan officer said...

Hells Bells, Myler can finance a stick of celery. He has to blame something for his lack of sufficent funds. Why are we beating around the bush. The guy is a flake, and he's in deep trouble financialy.

disgusted said...

loan officer

but hes godfreys flake. the only kind of people godfrey seems to know or wants to do business with.

wasnt at the ogden parade myself but heard that as godfrey rolled down the street waving at the crowds during the parade that he was constantly booed at. any truth to that story.

Curmudgeon said...

Comment moved to new article comments section

danny said...

Article. Three entities mentioned.

Midtown Development.
Stuart Reid.
Chris Peterson.

Relevant Descriptors:

Incompetent. Foolish. Inept. Incapable. Clueless. Suck ups. Leeches. Godfrey associates.

Hey,whatever happened to Jeff Lowe?

danny said...

Mommy look! The little mayor over there is not a development genius after all! His plans are all going down the doodoo hole!

Son, it's like your Daddy always told you - arrogance and lots of public money is not the same thing as talent, although fools think it is. Now, let's go get some ice cream.

Tony Toni Tone said...

Wait: is the new waterpark, 2010, complete with hotel and parking garage, back on the burner?

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