Friday, October 17, 2008

Windsor Hotel Project Documents

A short document collection compiled at the request of our gentle readers

Over the course of the past few days, we've had numerous requests from Weber County Forum readers, for the posting of various documents pertaining to the Windsor Hotel Project. We always try to be accommodating to our gentle readers, so we've exerted some effort over the past couple of days assembling documents. Among those documents requested, we've managed to obtain, upload and/or link the following relevant items:

1) Wilson Martin 10/14/08 Memorandum: This document was transmitted to the city council in response to the appended October 10 inquiry of Council Director Bill Cook.

2) Windsor Project Grant Agreement: This document specifies the rights and obligations of Ogden Properties LLC and Ogden City, with regard to the $288,000 grant.

3) Windsor Development Agreement: This document sets forth the respective rights and obligations of Ogden Properties LLC and the Ogden RDA, in connection with the Windsor Hotel Project itself.

4) Interpreting The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation - Subject: Rooftop Additions on Mid-Size Historic Buildings: This Department of the Interior web page provides useful guidance for projects similar to the Windsor Hotel Project, with special attention to rooftop additions.

We post these documents without our own editorial comment, inasmuch as we have a busy real-life (non-cyber) calender today.

We've been unsuccessful so far in obtaining a copy of the Ogden Properties LLC demand letter, which caused such an uproar earlier in the week. In the event we can get our hands on a copy of this, we'll be sure to put it up.

Plenty of material here to provoke a good end of week discussion, we think.

Please don't allow the cat to get your tongues.

24 comments:

danny said...

First take:

II. A.
The city acknowledged that the property was ALREADY zoned for the intended use, which INCLUDED an added 4th floor.

III. C. 3.
If the project is not completed before April 30th 2009, the city has the right to buy the property back for $332,000 plus VERIFIED CAPITAL EXPENDITURES FOR CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS BY DEVELOPER ON PROPERTY.

Bottom line:
The city agreed to have a fourth floor, but didn't agree to the asinine design Ogden Properties came up with.

The city can buy the thing back for 300 g's and doesn't have to pay Ogden Properties for time spent or anything else, only for hard cash spent actually improving the property.

Thus, the salvation of the incompetent Godfrey administration is even more incompetent Ogden Properties.

Take away:
City council should have allowed the public to vet the agreement before voting for it, like they did with the Midtown agreement. Smart people in the community would have saved a lot of trouble the dummies in the Godfrey administration got us in to. Nonetheless, the damage appears to me minimal.

What should happen now:
The mousy sycophant who posted yesterday as Landmarks Commission Member should show she is more than a waste of space by getting the LC to work with OP to come up with a 4th floor design for the Windsor that MEETS historical standards! The the project moves forward, with no loss of historical aspects, and everyone wins.

How hard is that?

danny said...

Second take:

What a pity that we don’t have a competent and independent Landmarks Committee to work these sorts of issues. It would be very useful.

But it's clear our present LC has no credibility, for good reason.

Moroni McConkie said...

If the Windsor is going to languish under the mayor's and landmark commission's incompetent vindictiveness for the next several years, I wonder if Mr. Owens will turn his interest to the Ben Lomond Hotel instead.

ruby said...

We can all see why the Windsor needed Landmarks Commission buy-off on the project. "All improvements will comply with applicable design guidelines for the 25th Street Historic District..." I'm curious to know if this agreement was known by all members of the Landmarks Commission. If I happened to be on the LC and was not aware of the details of this agreement, I think that I would feel duped. Based on the two federal guides, the one at the end of Mr. Martin's letter and the other link provided by Rudi, this building does not even come close to meeting proper rehab standards.

curious 1 said...

Looks like the developer couldn't get the $2.5M to renovate the hotel and have it sold and occupied by April 2009. They were on the hook to develop the hotel following Historic Restrictions and did sign off on thet part.
Clearly they were looking for a way to bail and try to retain the grant funds, a little smoke and mirrors from them. Since it clearly states that the city would buy the property back at $332K plus any capital expenditures, and I don't see $1M worth of improvements.

It would be a good investment with another company if they also could get the same co-operation from the city and grant money. We do need more retail downtown, and any or the Historic buildings there would add to the cities re-birth.

Why hasn't the city tried to work with the owner of the Helena Hotel a block East and get another project going. It looks in better shape to start with than the Windsor.

Curmudgeon said...

Danny:

In re: your "bottom line" analysis: some here, and I think you were one, have been complaining that the City incompetently gave away the store in its development agreement with Ogden Properties. Now you're reporting that, actually, the development agreement leaves the city in the driver's seat, able to regain the property for what it paid, more or less, right? Seems the Administration and Council weren't so careless after all. [Couldn't bring yourself to say it, could you.]

Dr. Opposite said...

Here's what jumped out at me as I read the documents:

The grant agreement mentions a 4th floor as if it already exists.

The development agreement specifically says that a 4th floor will be added.

Both documents say that all modifications will comply with the 25th street design guidelines and all other applicable ordinances.

Both documents include the buyback option for a cost of $332,000 if the renovation isn't completed by April 30.

The grants themselves are confusing, and it's not at all clear (to me) whether the grant money has to be refunded to the city if the renovation is never carried out.

I don't see a clause stating that if part of the agreement is found to be illegal, the rest remains in effect. (This could be important with respect to the 4th floor addition.)

danny said...

Gee Curm,

Why so crabby?

II. A.
Says the site is CURRENTLY ZONED to permit the development in Article III.

Article III. B. I says a fourth floor will be added.

See the problem?

The document is only 5 pages long, but I don't mind reading it to you.

Note that the Godfrey administration proffered a document that was clearly false to the city council. Note it was this falsehood that has caused all the ruckus. Note that had the document not been a mess none of this would have happened. Note that to cover this up the Godfrey administration duped the Landmarks Commission, or at least those "nice people" on the Commission who were not in on the con.

Thankfully the city now has the RIGHT, but not the OBLIGATION to buy the thing back, for a decent price. This ain't bad. Let Ogden Properties twist in the wind, or buy it back. Personally, if I didn't have a ready buyer for the latter, I'd go with the former.

That's what I see in my "minute review". Now try to relax. You seem uptight.

Go buy some TWM or something to feel better. It's about 100.

churchill said...

I think you all make good points. Ruby, I definitely agree, this helps explain to me the motive why certain members of the LC (Bernie and Sue - the mayor's most faithful and ardent supporters on the LC) have been so adamant that this project meets historic guidelines. It never really made much sense to me before reading the development agreement. As per that agreement with the City, it had to meet those guidelines. I'm not an architect by any means, but even I could tell that this design was a bit off. Let me make it clear, I'm not attacking the LC, but certain actions by a couple members have really undermined the LC's credibility, in my mind. And thank you to the LC member who posted below.

danny said...

Gosh, it seems like yesterday that people were disputing me, when I pointed out that the federal government's many "bailouts" would make things worse. One of the main goals of the bailouts were lower mortgage rates.

Let's take a look at what has happened since.

Weekly mortgage rates

Hmmm. It looks like after a brief, downward blip, that rates are now as high or higher than before. But thanks to the government "doing something", now there is also billions of taxpayer money gone up in flames.

So where are all those people now? Nothing to say?

Ditto Godfrey. These people say, "But we HAVE to do SOMETHING!!" Yeah, sure we do. Get the government involved. Great idea. Yeah, Windsor Hotel. Brilliant.

Curnudgeon said...

Beatyous ainnit?

The Internationale

[sniffle]

Curmudgeon said...

Danny:
You wrote: Thankfully the city now has the RIGHT, but not the OBLIGATION to buy the thing back, for a decent price. This ain't bad.

So, as I said, if you are right, it seems, contrary to what many here were saying, that the city negotiated a deal that did indeed protect the public's interest, didn't it? Just can't bring yourself to say it, can you....

G.O.P. OUT DO THIS said...

Hey Hughes where is my $50,000.00
The committee said it is ok now so I want mine in 10's and 20's. You can deliver it to the speakers office. He has $300,000.00 to bribe other legislators and I want mine. I won't be asking twice. Get my drift. No I wont shake you down for it, but if I did the committee says that is ok also.

Ignorant WCF Reader said...

I'm going to show my ignorance on building and architectural matters, but looking at things naively, I have a question: From what I've seen of hotels, the lobby usually has exceptionally high ceilings almost 2 stories, why can't the design for the new Windsor still include 4 floors within the 45' height limit with a ceiling height for the penthouses that Ogden Properties Properties, LLC wanted by having lower ceilings on the first 3 floors?
Am I really off-base thinking that Ogden Properties could have made some modifications to their plans, stay within the historic building guidelines and kept their coantract obligations with Ogden City? I hope that there is someone who knows and can help this poor ignorant WCF reader. Thanks!

Thomas L. said...

The bottom line is that Scott Brown, the genius, and his Ogden Properties dupes got caught with their pants down by a declining economy. Their greed may have carried the day for them in earlier times, but the real world of economics caught up with them - and thousands of other greed driven developers and operators and it all came tumbling down. Now they are trying everything they can to leave the sinking ship and perhaps stick the tax payers of Ogden with the tab - like Brown is so very used to doing. It the buy back is optional like some one above posted, then it is hopeful that Lord Godfrey will have enough sense to decline. Unfortunately his past record of doling out big cash to his cronies could work against the tax payers in this one. He just might decide to dish up another million or so to line Scott Brown's pocket - once again.

what will it costs us said...

I hope the city can recover the $288,000 grant back from them if they decline to but the property back. It is my concern that this whole ploy was to get the property and it would take more than the April 2009 deadline to get this project built, even if the CC went along with the ordinance.

I want our CC to stand up and do what is right for all the city and not just one small part.

When can we see the tax revenue from the promised Wal-Mart, condos at the Junction, river project, more high adventure jobs, and actual retail coming to Ogden. I see where Mervyns is closing at Newgate and other malls across Utah.

We need to count our pennies and close these million dollar giveaways, show me the plans, financial backing and real developments, and permits issued before any more tax money is given away,rather than empty promises, and burned shells for the insurance money.

Curmudgeon said...

Comment bumped to main article post

dan s. said...

I've just (finally) read the Wilson Martin letter and the bottom line is that it says essentially the same thing as the earlier Murphy letter, though in a somewhat more obfuscated way.

Martin's letter is absolutely clear on the fact that the proposed rooftop addition to the Windsor would render it ineligible for historic tax credits.

Martin's letter is less clear on whether the Windsor rooftop addition would endanger the National Register status of 25th Street, thereby depriving other properties of potential tax credits. However, from everything I've seen on the SHPO web site, it appears that the criteria for eligibility for the National Register are the same as the criteria for eligibility for tax credits. Therefore I think we can conclude that Murphy was right when she said the Windsor would no longer "contribute" to the eligibility of 25th Street for the National Register--and that if similar alterations were made to enough other properties, the National Register status of the whole district could be lost.

(Martin's letter suggests that for a district to lose its National Register status, someone would probably have to petition for removal of the status. But this scenario isn't at all far-fetched, if there's ever a property owner who wants to be rid of the requirements that Ogden imposes on historic districts. And even if nobody files such a petition, the Keeper of the National Register still has the authority to remove a district from the Register.)

Finally, Martin's letter definitively implies that the Landmarks Commission erred when it granted a Certificate of Historic Appropriateness for the Windsor renovation. That's because the criteria in the Ogden City Code use exactly the same language that Wilson quoted from the federal criteria: "New additions ... shall be compatible with the massing, size, scale and architectural features to protect the historic integrity of the property and its environment."

So again we're presented with this questions: What went wrong when the Landmarks Commission approved that Certificate for the Windsor, and what can the City Council do to ensure that the Landmarks Commission will not make such errors in the future?

I'm disgusted 2 said...

What is so disgusting is our economic-minded mayor seems to bring only greedy California developers and felons to Ogden to take advantage of the more than generous bribes he offers to get them here, so he can say “Oh, look! I am so great – I’ve brought another outdoor company to Ogden! Get down on your knees and pay me the homage I’m due!” But when an honest developer comes on his own and wants to build a needed center with a neighborhood grocery store, he gives them all kinds of hell and discouragement! How dare they come and not ask for a handout?! Even in this down economy, they have come with funding, ready to begin construction, and he won’t give them the time of day. He tries moratoriums and delays, refusing to talk with them.

what will it cost us said...

Disgusted:

If it isn't the mayors idea then it deflates his ego and we all suffer don't you know.

If businesses won't locate where the mayor wants they just move out of the city limits. Seems like he is more of a roadblock to development than his so called nay-sayers.

disgusted said...

i'm disgusted 2
more of the same. remember when the guy wanted to open an indian restruant at the old hotel adjoining washington blvd and the odgen river. godfrey wouldnt give him a construction permit for about 6 months and then after that godfrey put a 6 month moratorium on all development along the ogden river. and of course we now know why - to protect and help his buddy gadi.

bullet sponge said...

At the core of the problem is the fact that any commission, council, board of directors etc is made up of human beings who have political leanings. There is always the chance that that group will make a decision based more on politics than the facts. Even if they don't, the appearance is there when they make a bad decision.

We clearly don't want the Council having to do Landmarks' job for them, but we also don't have much confidence in Landmarks right now. And if they do straighten up, the Mayor could just as easily jettison members as he did before (even though the bilaws state "for cause" which was somehow ignored by the council who foolishly approved his changes instead of standing their ground).

Is there some sort of appeal process? Can a bad Landmarks decision (such as the Windsor) be appealed and brought before the council by some process? The height restriction change was the only reason it went before them this time, but without that it would have been full speed ahead on the horrible 4th story.

Perhaps *certain* major decisions requiring a council vote would help. Or at least some appeal process to the council that could be brought forward by groups like the WCHF. Then the council doesn't need to rule on everything, but it also puts some check in place for situations like this.

dan s. said...

bullet sponge,

Good question--but I'm pretty sure the answer is no. The council can amend the criteria for approving projects, and can also amend the procedures, but as a legislative body they (probably) cannot interject themselves into what is fundamentally an administrative process.

Ogden Resident said...

As someone that reads a lot of contracts on a regular basis, I find the agreements put together by my city administration to be disappointing. The agreements are sophomoric and inexcusable when one thinks that they are coming from a municipality that has their own legal staff. Worth noting too is that it appears that none of the city attorneys signed off on the agreement but rather some staff member did the legal department sign off. Both contracts have conflicting language on some of the same terms in the agreements, in other words terms within the two agreements that should run in parallel language, neither contracts seem detailed enough in some aspects and neither contain the standard language that usually follow the agreement terms such as a clause on governing law jurisdiction, environmental responsibilities, indemnifications or severability just to name a few.

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