Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Emerald City News Roundup 11.18.08

A downtown property transaction and a 2008 election cliff hanger

We find two news items of particular interest in this morning's Standard-Examiner:

1) The Boyer Building, which Curmudgeon discussed here on Sunday morning, is right back in the news again today. Ace Reporter Schwebke reports this morning that The Boyer Company has lined up a prospective California buyer, and is hoping to get the RDA Board's cooperation in closing out these entities's mutual property interests in this money losing downtown albatross. Mr. Schwebke's lead paragraphs provide the gist:
OGDEN — The city’s administration plans to ask the Ogden Redevelopment Agency to support the sale of a 66,000-square-foot downtown office building owned by The Boyer Company.
The RDA board, made up of the city council, may vote on a resolution in the next few weeks enabling RLA Real Estate, based in Irvine, Calif., to purchase the building at the corner of 24th Street and Washington Boulevard within The Junction development.
The RDA board would have to approve the transaction because the city owns the land where the building is situated, which also could be sold to RLA, said Richard McConkie, deputy director of Ogden’s community and economic development department. The RDA provided the land and The Boyer Company funded the cost of constructing and operating the building, which opened in 2007.
A sale price for the building and land to RLA hasn’t been determined, said Tom Christopulos, the city’s business development manager. The land alone is valued at $213,500, according to records on file with the Weber County Assessor’s Office.
If there is indeed a ready, willing and able buyer waiting in the wings, this prospective transaction will relieve the Boyer Company of its current operational expenses, put the property fully onto the Weber County tax rolls, and add a few dollars back into the RDA's bank account. It looks to be a win-win for all the stakeholders indeed, assuming the deal goes forward.

Go for it, we say. The devil's in the details, of course.

2) Std-Ex reporter Di Lewis reports that two weeks post election, the Weber County Clerk's office is still counting a truckload of provisional and absentee ballots, something like 4,000 of them, to be exact.

We did a lot of cheering and celebrating on election night, and in the days thereafter, especially with respect to the unofficial results in House Legislative Districts 9 and 10. In the course of the post election discussion however, we heard cautionary admonitions here and here.

Lets all cross our fingers and hope we didn't count our chickens before they were hatched. We all remember what happened the last time Weber County Clerk Alan McEwan's office completed its final election canvass.

Take it away, O Gentle Ones.


Curmudgeon said...

Interesting facts emerge in the Boyer Building story.

Boyer is apparently losing money on the not-as-yet fully leased building and selling it would permit it to pay off the construction loans it took to build the thing, and get out from under servicing that debt, or so Ogden city officials speculate. RDA has to approve because it owns the land on which the building sits. It's a little unclear at this point whether the city will be asked to sell the new owner the land involved as well. An Ogden City development official also told Schwebke that Boyer, if it sells the building, would be able to "restructure its debt" on other parts of the Junction development.

Boyer is supposed to split profits from the building with Ogden City. How exactly that would be affected by the sale is, again, not entirely clear at this point. But, city officials told Schwebke, the building hasn't generated any profits because construction costs came in higher than expected, and lease payments have not been enough to generate profit. [This is the same building, let us recall, that Hizzonah wanted the city to add another floor to, at the city's risk for both construction and leasing. Boyer wanted no part of that extra floor. The Council told the Mayor no.]

OK, let's step back for a moment and see if we can sum this up in plain English {and if I get this wrong, someone please correct me}:

Boyer wants to bail on at least part of the Junction development project it is heading up, because it's losing money on the building it built and manages. It wants out of continued servicing of the construction loans for the building. And getting out from under those payments will enable it to "restructure" its continuing debt on other parts of The Junction project --- from which are we to conclude that they're not doing all that well either?

In plain English: Is the Junction Project is in serious financial trouble now? Leasing not going as well as had been hoped? [The Earnshaw condo project is still not finished and open for occupancy.] It looks like Boyer has shifted to damage control as a short term goal on the project, and we're now hearing notions like "getting out from under construction debt" and "restructuring."

Two suggestions: First, it is time, seems to me, for the SE to do a thorough review and updating on the status of The Junction project. All of it. To bring its readers up to date on the financial status and prospects for the project as they are now, so the public can get an updated and accurate idea of what the prospects are for the project and the public treasury going forward from where we are now.

And second: based on this morning's story, perhaps it's time for the SE to begin using this phrase --- "Ogden's troubled Junction development" --- when referring to the project.

Bill C. said...

Curm, it wasn't 1 floor, it was 2 that lying little matty wanted added to the building. He also was going to guarantee that the City would pay for it untill it was fully leased out. Had he won that little deal, I doubt Boyer would looking to sell, afterall theyed be making a profit off half of their un-used building.

Parks are cool said...

I'm starting to think that this piece of public land would have been better put to use as a huge Central Park.

Instead we got this "mall" which will slowly be sold off to private developers to free the citizens of dept.

The best development is no development - and once in a while SMART development.

This project is turning into none of the above.

dan s. said...

Totally off-topic, but possibly of interest: Nate Silver is a new celebrity who made a name for himself during the election season by aggregating and analyzing poll data on his web site, FiveThirtyEight.com. Until recently, however, his main claim to fame was as an analyst of baseball statistics. I love his web site because he uses numbers and mathematics they way they should be used: to obtain accurate insights into what's happening.

Anyhow, yesterday he posted a blog entry titled A Few Notes on the Media, where he comments as follows:

"CBS's underlying problem -- and the commonality between the three items that I described above -- is the arbitrary and largely ineffectual nature of the fact-checking process employed by the mainstream media. I have written for perhaps a dozen major publications over the span of my career, and the one with the most thorough fact-checking process is by some margin Sports Illustrated. Although this is an indication of the respect with which SI accords its brand, it does not speak so well of the mainstream political media that you are more likely to see an unverified claim repeated on the evening news than you are to see in the pages of your favorite sports periodical."

Silver also points out that the blogosphere is partially filling in the gap, checking facts that the mainstream media doesn't bother to check. So let's keep up the good work, folks!

disgusted said...

property is worth more than what is on the weber county books.

article is not clear as to whether the rda is expected to buy the building from boyer and then resell it to rla. if its the former the deal should be a no go.

if the later and ogden city is going to loose potential revenue stream from the building then boyer should give back some of the revenue stream that they get from the bdo.

and godfrey wants us to spend a million dollars on 12th st.

Curmudgeon said...


Not off topic at all. The SE's habit, far too often, of simply accepting statements by officeholders without fact-checking them has been a subject of comment at WCF for a long time now. And it leads to Pollyanna editorials like the one recently commented on here.

BTW, the statistical study of the the Art of Baseball is called Sabermetrics. Here's the lead para of the Wikipedia entry:

Sabermetrics is the analysis of baseball through objective evidence, especially baseball statistics. The term is derived from the acronym SABR, which stands for the Society for American Baseball Research. It was coined by Bill James, who was among its first proponents and has long been its most prominent and public advocate.

Sabermatricians are a... well, special class of people. [Stone nuts, some would say.] And the do tend to be... well, let's just say "avid" about their obsession. But they do insist on... would that the SE did as well, and Ogden City Government... conclusions based on evidence [generally statistical evidence] that stands up to examination and verification. These days, eight years into the Bush presidency and Godfrey Administration, I have a soft spot in my heart for anyone who insists, loudly, on the importance of ground conclusions on verifiable evidence.

Even sports statistics nuts.

Moroni McConkie said...

I would be pleased if the S-E had either the strength or talent to do a comprehensive review of the vagaries of the Junction project. But I hold out no hope for it. Although I sense it's more likely that Kristen Moulton, if anyone, would take this on, it's a sudden shock to realize that Utah may no longer have any paper capable of this.

(You can bet your sweet ass that the OGDEN Standard-Examiner under Darrell Greenwell or Murray Moler would've been all over it.)

Sad but true, Dan S., it's now up to the blogosphere to do this. Front page story in today's N.Y. Times on precisely that phenomenon.

Connie said...

The reason that there are 4000 ballots yet to count is because the Driver LIcense Division in Ogden is committing voter registration fraud.

We discovered on election day that we were not registered to vote because the employees (yes, more than one) are not giving people the forms to sign and send to the Weber County Clerk.

I'm told this is an ongoing problem with Ogden DLD but no one is doing anything about it. I had a discussion with DAVE (guy in charge down there) about it and he was less than helpful.

Lunch stroll said...

Just finished my lunchtime stroll around 25th street. Not a whole lot going on but nice to get out and breath some exhaust.

There is some music playing on the west end of the street which is nice. Also there is a new coffee shop on Kiesel between 24th and 25th. The last thing I needed was more caffeine so I didn't try it but plan to.

All in all its a beautiful day!

disgusted said...

the story line that bothered me was

"It would pay off the building for them, he said. "They wouldn't have to carry that debt any more"

my question is this. is "IT" the rda and is "them" boyer. if it is the rda why is the city getting in the middle of a commecrial agreement with two unrelated parties. only downside risk for the city. and as others question what happens to the citys call on go forward revenues. city should recieve some compensation from boyer for these lost dollars if city looses this potential stream or should require new buyer to assume boyers obligation to city for this revenues stream when it starts to be generated.
ogden city is in a great position to get more from boyer through negotiations than it would appear.
lets see what our citys a team is capable of and whether the city council makes them perform or just roles over again.

lets get it done said...

When is the clerk of the county going to realizes that he is braking the law, when the votes are not counted by the canvass deadline?

Oh, I forgot, that the laws are only for the democrats!!!!!

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