Thursday, October 30, 2008

Windsor Hotel Developer Ups the Ante

"Historic preservationist" developer applies for a permit to demolish the entire Windsor Hotel structure

Interesting article on the Standard-Examiner front page this morning, regarding the Windsor Hotel project. The project developer, frustrated by the city council's decision to preserve the historic character of Ogden's Historic 25th Street District, has adopted a whole new tactic. Threats of legal action didn't work... so now these California developers suddenly want to tear the whole danged building down. From this morning's Ace Reporter Schwebke story:
OGDEN — The historic and controversial Windsor Hotel may have a date with the wrecking ball.
Ogden Properties II LLC, owner of the 100-year-old hotel at 166 25th St., has applied for a city demolition permit.
Stuart Sheldon, an official with Ogden Properties, declined Wednesday to provide details regarding whether the company plans to tear down the hotel and construct another building in its place. “Of course we don’t want to see the Windsor demolished, but we need to keep our options open,” Sheldon said in a phone interview.
So much for the psuedo-preservationist philosophy touted on Ogden Properties' website:"Renovation rather than new construction provides enormous environmental benefit."

We already knew it was really all about the money though, didn't we? It's become pretty apparent at this stage of the game that these developers weren't really interested in "historic preservation."

And for a delightful little additional twist, Mr. Schwebke reports that the Little Lord on Nine is egging the developers on:
Mayor Matthew Godfrey said he tried to warn the city council in advance that the Windsor would be lost unless some flexibility was provided to allow renovations
“If we don’t find a way to make the building economically viable, it will disappear,” Godfrey said, recalling his warning to the council.
And good ole Godfrey lackey Dave Harmer is crowing about what he apparently believes to be a checkmate predicamant... on his next to last day on the job:
Dave Harmer, the city’s community and economic development director, said that position is ironic since it could be the catalyst for the Windsor’s demolition.
“The people who were opposed to changing the ordinance to allow the Windsor to move forward said they were opposed because they wanted to preserve a historic building,” Harmer said.
“But the most concerning thing is that we may end up losing one of our historic buildings.”
Good riddance to Dave Harmer, we'll add.

And Ogden used to be such a nice little town... before Godfrey and his greedy developer cronies moved in.

We also look back nostalgically to those halcyon Ogden City days of yore, when folks actually delivered according to their original promises.

Let's hear our readers comments about this. We have the strong psychic feeling that the Windsor Hotel project is destined to long remain on the Weber County Forum discussion front-burner.


Libby N. said...

I am not sure why they couldn't have come back with an appropriate addition to the Windsor. "preservationists" do not add giant metal pac-man type structures that look like they are eating the historic building underneath. Why do I think that the Mayor and his administration counseled the Ogden Properties to get this permit? Oh yeah, because they are vindictive and ethically bankrupt.

Curmudgeon said...

What struck me about the article is the way Godfrey and Harmer have decided to join the Windsor owners in re-writing history to suit their own purposes.

They, for example, now claim that the zoning change they wanted was just to accommodate the Windsor. It was not. It proposed to change the height restrictions over the entire Historic 25th Street district. [And at the time it went before the council, they were insisting the change was not about the Windsor, but about rationalizing the height restrictions over the entire street.] That failed when letters came in from highly credible Utah historic preservation experts warned that changing the height restrictions over the whole district might endanger its Historic District status.

Now, suddenly, according to Harmer and Hizzonah, it really was all about the Windsor and nothing else. And that now the Windsor may be lost because the Council refused to accommodate its owners by changing the zoning for it. [But changing the zoning for it was, again, not the proposal the Godfrey administration brought before the Council. Changing the zoning for the whole street was. This they seem to have conveniently forgotten when talking to Mr. Schwebke.]

Interesting too was Mr. Harmer's woeful comment that the "price" of buying back the Windsor might exceed a million dollars. He too seems to have forgotten that the purchase agreement for the property entitled the city to buy it back if the renovation had not been completed by a date certain, at the original purchase price plus capital improvements. The Windsor owners are asking north of a million for the property. That does not mean that the city will, under the terms of the original purchase agreement, have to pay that much, or anything close to it. Mr. Harmer's memory seems to have become very selective in his final days in office --- doubtless the result of spending all those months trying to remember where he misplaced those 300 missing parking slots.

Finally, it would be useful if Mr. Schwebke, who managed to find room in his story for the Windsor owners whining letter about being done in by a sneaky political campaign, had also managed to find room to remind his readers that when the current owners purchased the property, they committed themselves to a renovation plan that conformed to then-existing zoning requirements on the property. And that they then submitted a renovation plan that did not conform to the existing zoning requirements. Seems to me those facts are at least as important for readers to know as the fact that the owners claim they were done in by politics.

We can't, really, be surprised any more at Godfrey administration dissembling to serve the interests of the Friends of Matt. But there is no reason the Standard Examiner should convey their dissembling to its readers unexamined.

Finally, we have here it seems yet another example... the list is getting long... of the Administration's bumbling incompetence at public administration. Had it supported a zoning variance for the Windsor property alone, it seems unlikely that the letters warning of what might happen if the height zoning were changed for the entire Historic 25th Street would have been sent, and the Windsor project might well have already been approved. But no. Godfrey over reached and botched it yet again.

The Windsor owners are annoyed. Perhaps they have reason to be. But not at the Council. At the bumbling incompetence of the Administration they, sadly, lashed their interests to so unwisely.

sara said...

Good riddance to Dave Harmer.

He leaves a bad taste.

Moroni McConkie said...

Libby: Whoever you are, your characterizing Ogden Properties' drawings as a "Pac-man" structure that appears to gobble the underlying Windsor is brilliant.

I feel strangely unemotional about whether the Windsor stands or falls. What I feel sure of is that it would be a grave mistake to jeopardize Two-Bit Street's historic district status. And that Ogden Properties' conduct from Day One has been dishonorable. Who would ever think a developer could so behave?

It seems unanimous that Harmer won't be missed around here. It may not be out-of-bounds to suggest that we'll see right away what Scott Waterfall's mettle is, once he starts trying to steer this boat.

OgdenLover said...

Not to be incendiary, but for how much is the Windsor insured?

ozboy said...

As a staunch preservationist I hate to say it, but the Windsor is not worth saving. There is very little about the building that is truly historic. In addition, it is an incredible and dangerous wreck. Seems ripe for another Godfreyite torch job, do you suppose they have it insured?

Most truly historic buildings that are worth saving have architectural elements both outside and inside that make them valuable and worth investing large sums of money in. Sadly the Windsor has none of the above except the facade which itself is not original but a 1930's re-do of the original. Said 1930's re-do was not particularly done well and the original artistic nature of the building was ruined at that time. The inside is completely devoid of anything historic and is in fact a poorly engineered and constructed 1930's flop house put up after the original building was heavily damaged in a fire. (or so I have been told by an insider in the know) I suggest that the Landmark commission and/or the council investigate this and verify just exactly what it is that is being contested.

So I believe all of this brouhaha is just one more example of the Godfreyite style of dissembling and manipulations to benefit their insider clique.

As Mr. Curmudgeon so smartly pointed out in his post above, the Mayor, Harmer and the inept Schwepke continue to peddle the myth that some how the city council is standing in the way of true historical preservation. It is especially egregious how they completely ignore the true nature of the recently failed attempt to use the Windsor situation to take away height restrictions for the entire street, and how they also tried to get the council to abdicate any future input or controls over this issue.

Even if the council had allowed this new height restriction and pac man addition, the Windsor project would not have been economically viable in today's market. This height business was just a red hearing engineered by the corrupt Godfrey as a way to let his developer buddies dodge a big bullet and escape the financial consequences of their bad timing and general incompetence.

A good solution that the council could take would be for them to give the OK - for the Windsor only - to have the new height restriction and their pac man addition. They should put a time limit on it and make it specific to the Windsor only. That would call these wanna be developer's, and the Godfreyite, bluff. They would then have to put up or shut up. They would have to build this sure money loser or take a hike without using the council as a scape goat.

I say tear it down. It was junk then and it is junk now. I applaud the council's courage in standing up to the Godfreyite machinations.

Myrna said...

If they tear it down do they have to give the $288,000 back? Seems that money was given to them to further historical preservation.

It seems strange how this city administration is so good at wasting tax payer money on this sort of thing and yet is so inept at making a good return for the citizens. Can any one on this blog tell me of any verifiable success stories that have resulted from the myriad of projects the mayor has got us into? Is there any winners in all of this?

disgusted said...

the old adage of biting off your nose to spite your face comes to mind.
the wrecking permit only validates the fact that the developer really doesnt have a mil and a quarter in the building.
if they did they would try to sell the building before they spent another say 100 k to tear it down to only be left with a piece of vacant land worth less than a quater of their investment.
their either bluffing or the stupidest developers in the west.
let them go thrugh the motions. theyll either sell to the city at the 320 k option price or find another buyer that might pay more.

quade said...

I'd be interested in finding out the beliefs of these developers. I would bet against the idea that are Democrats and/or liberal minded. I also wouldn't be surprised to learn that they are "devout" christians.

Most of you may say that this is off topic and not of any relavance but I'm starting to think that perhaps it's all there is to it.

bullet sponge said...

quade, you shouldn't drink and post :P

sara said...

Before this Windsor Hotel thing is settled my money is on arson again like the Shupe-Wiliams insurance recovery.

Curmudgeon said...

Comment bumped to front page.

Moroni McConkie said...

Sara: I'll bet many WCForum readers are thinking Windsor Hotel arson, as well. However, since the Windsor is so close to surrounding businesses and homes, unlike the Shupe-Williams, let's hope not.

Too Bad said...

All of these hypothetical scenarios that are posted on this blogsite, such as the Windsor Hotel debacle and other Ogden projects, are nothing more than fictionalized, entertainment only reading. Supported by little or no facts, except for something dreampt up because of political motivation, by individuals who have done absolutely NOTHING to enhance Ogden's economic outlook or the position of Ogden's citizens, these insulting diatribes weave erroneoulsy in and out of the subject like Charlotte's Web, allowing for self indulgence and offering nothing but fantasy laced bias.

These assumptive posts remind me of somebody who criticizes the office holder but who didn't take the time to vote.

Much could be done if one had the understanding and gumtion to do it, but I'm afraid the only contribution from this end will be unbridled criticism instead of a positive movement toward a respected goal. It would be nice to see action that yields City wide results rather than read this junk that goes nowhere but on these pages.

Too bad, because the real looser here is the Ogden resident and said resident will remain the looser as long as this pervasive attitude continues.

RudiZink said...

"All of these hypothetical scenarios that are posted on this blogsite, such as the Windsor Hotel debacle and other Ogden projects, are nothing more than fictionalized, entertainment only reading. Supported by little or no facts, except for... blah, blah blah."

Read up, Too Bad.

Nowhere in town will you find a more robust discussion of the facts.

Nothing sillier (or more pathetic) than a critic, who obviously hasn't even bothered to read this blog.

Schnozzboy said...

Dreampt? Gumtion? Looser?

Wonder if Ms. Too Bad got past the 8th grade?

what will it cost us said...

So is Too Bad a Geiger or a "G" train supporter?

I recently heard some of the Solomon employees were dis-illusioned since they followed the mayors advice and moved here.
How or why would you trade Portland for Ogden? Brew-pubs and fine restaurants for kiddlyland and flouresent bowling, and closed on Sunday high adventure.

Has anyone followed up on employees quiting and moving away, how many employees are still around, what have they added to the tax structure. Provident or "G" Train properties vacant or unable to unload. I'm glad they bought these properties while the bubble was still going. I hope the neighbors are complaining about the weeds now.

And Too Bad how long have you lived here in Ogden, maybe you need to be informed since most of these posters have been long time residents, not developers, or agents who are only here for the quick buck promised them by the mayor.

We have seen our water and garbage rates up over 100% in the time the mayor has been in office, he did start the re-cycling program which we are all thankful for. He did stop the spring and fall cleanup, and the street festival. We see $175K a month to subsidize the Junction, we have seen almost all retail leave downtown, we have seen the mayors idea costs the taxpayers plenty, we have seen city jobs go to friends and campaign supporters, we have un-supported dollars supposedly coming back to the city from high adventure not happening, we have heard lies and dis-tortions from the current administration. We have seen the mayor not sponsor any activity that might have beer\wine associated with it.

So we aren't nay-sayers we are concerned for the average person here in Ogden. This is the administration that has obligated the city for more bond debt than any previous time. So go check your facts and get back to me if you can.

Bill C. said...

What's hypothetical about the Landmarks Commission certifying design plans that don't measure up to the established criteria? What's hypothetical about the lying little mayors' uncle orchestrating the proccess and taking great care to avoid input from any experts? All of which are now on record as saying the plans don't qualify.
What's hypothetical about signed aggreements requiring compliance with historical guidelines?
The City should be suing these shysters right now to recover the money they were granted.
The tone of the post clearly lends to it coming from a despondent lift ogden sort, but if one only knows anything from what they read in the gondola examinar, they'd know nothing about the hypotheticals we're accused of raising. Squirrel patrol leftenant carter has managed to keept the community totally clueless about the facts of this fiasco.

Curmudgeon said...

What it will cost us:

You asked: How or why would you trade Portland for Ogden?

That's easy. If the company I worked for moved from there to here and I wanted to stay employed by them, I'd move too. No brainer, that one.

I wish, What It Cost, I could convince myself that you're not kind of rooting for the failure of the Salomon Center, and Ogden outdoor companies. The tone of your post suggests to me that you are.

bullet sponge said...

These assumptive posts remind me of somebody who criticizes the office holder but who didn't take the time to vote.

Oh we voted alright. And our candidate "lost" (though I still question that one)...

And I reserve the right to bitch and moan all I want whether I vote or not. Not voting is, in fact, a vote in itself. if I see two candidates I don't believe in, I don't see the need to endorse either one, but I can still make my voice heard.

what will it cost us said...

I'm not hoping for the Solomon Center to fail and leave the taxpayers on the hook since we are paying to subsidize the leases for the private businesses. The building was built on the cheap.

I think the companies were lured here by the mayor without doing due diligence in the area, the lack of entertainment, the mayor not wanting anything to do with alcohol, businesses closed on Sunday. I understand there were some inquires for another brew pub on 25th and the mayor would have nothing to do with it.

Our property values are lower than the rest of the US, but we pay higher taxes, water rates, and a city divided instead of working for the common good. I'm glad Iggy's is open on Sunday. I'm sorry to see businesses close such as the theatres on 12th and north pointe. I have watched the city being boarded up, bulldozed, altered, businesses turned away, sweatheat deals being made, developers promising condos, retail, office space going un rented and now the economy has put a hold on loans.

So where does that leave us, more condos not being built or sold, the old Radisson in bankrupcy, river project years behind schedule. Projects for the elite, ice tower, velodrome?

I do hope for the best and a mayor that actually talks to the city council showing some respect for their office, honest dealings with the public, rather than a bully using his office for political or financial gain.

drewmeister said...

I do hope for the best and a mayor that actually talks to the city council showing some respect for their office, honest dealings with the public, rather than a bully using his office for political or financial gain.

Yeaaaahh... right. That's a good one.

Curmudgeon said...

What it Will Cost Us:

OK. I'd only note that if companies moving to Ogden did not do their homework regarding the move, they have only themselves to blame. No well-run company should take any municipal booster and pitch man [aka mayor... of any city... trolling for new businesses to move to town] at his unchecked word. Ever. I doubt the companies that moved here did, but if they did, they have only themselves to blame.

In re: another 25th Street brew pub: Jasoah's [just opening on lower 25th Street] advertises itself as a restaurant and Brew Pub. It's right on their sign, right over the door. I'm still wondering what they're pouring. Their own brew, or are they an outlet for another Utah micro brewery?

Bill C. said...

Jackass dowse moved here fore only 2 reasons, 8 million bucks from the state and 4 million from the city. I wouldn't believe there was was too much discussion about the move, or input sought from employees residing in Portland, or even the jackass himself, this decision was made in Finland.
There were 12 million good reasons for the move.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
disgusted said...

bill c
dont forget either how expensive it is to operate out of portland. dowse was looking to cut costs in an industry that is struggling to maintain a bottom line.

Administrator said...

anonymous post removed by administrator for violation of the WCF terms of service

Curmudgeon said...


You wrote: dont forget either how expensive it is to operate out of portland. dowse was looking to cut costs in an industry that is struggling to maintain a bottom line.

Exactly right.

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