Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday Morning Emerald City News Roundup

An upcoming column series by Rep. Neil Hansen; and an editorial admonition for River Project "Plan B" thinking

By Curmudgeon

Two items of real interest in this morning's Standard-Examiner, both worth a look. First, the SE will be running a column by Rep. Neil Hansen [D-Ogden] during the current legislative session. Excellent decision on the part of the SE editors. Be nice not to have only a Republican legislator from Davis County telling us what the boys and girls in Salt Lake are up to this time round.

Hansen's first column appears today. In it, he reviews the standards he tries to apply when considering whether a particular piece of legislation is a good idea or not. His standards are good ones, but I'd suggest, given the Utah House's past performance, that Rep. Hansen add one more to his list: "Is this legislation likely to have unanticipated consequences?" The Developer's Dream Bill that created the Powder Mountain Town mess comes to mind as a bill that might not have been adopted had legislators thought about its likely unintended consequences first.

Second, the SE has yet another sound and sensible editorial up today. It points out that obvious, that "developer Gadi Leshem's California company's bankruptcy is a legitimate worry for Ogden's future, notwithstanding the developer's assurance that he plans to move ahead with his Junction City development projects." And then goes on to wonder if the Godfrey administration has "a solid "Plan B" prepared in case Leshem can't fulfill his obligations." Good question.

The editorial continues on to consider what key elements of that Plan B might involve, the most important of which [the SE says] is "an assurance that the properties remain under a single entity committed to the local projects." I'm not sure that's so, and I'll need to think about that some, but it's certainly something worth thinking about, and kudos to the SE for doing some Plan B thinking in advance. We must hope, along with the SE, that the Council and Administration are doing the same.


althepal said...

Regarding any administration Plan B which might be in the works:

Does anyone know whether Leshem and the City have entered into a formal written development agreement? Such an agreement would have specified the precise obligations that Mr. Leshem has undertaken with respect to the River Project, and would provide guidance about possible legal remedies in the event of breach.

In the absense of such an agreement, Leshem could very well be sitting in the catbird seat, as the sole record title owner of the fifty or so properties in question. Without an underlying development agreement, Mr. Leshem would be able to do (or not do) anything he damn well wants with these properties, including disassembling them and dealing them out individually to his existing creditors, or putting them on the market piecemeal, in the event he decides to abandon the project.

Also, in the absense of a development agreement, Mr. Leshem would be free to operate entirely under his own timeline, regardless of what he decides to do in the future.

If there is no development agreement, Ogden City could find itself in quite a dilemma, I would think.

OgdenLover said...

Can't property be seized for the owner's now paying taxes? Can't "abandoned" property be taken over by the city? Not that Ogden, under Matt Godfrey, would ever do such a thing to a FOM.

ozboy said...

Seems that the Lil Lord's plan "B" is to forge ahead with more nonsense like a velodrome and down town horse trails!

Ogden lover - the state code on tax sales is only after 5 years of delinquency. Also properties are not considered "abandoned" until the same five years of non tax payments.

As far as keeping the property as one entity, I think that will pretty much depend on the judge or judges that order up the bankruptcy or tax fraud auctions.

Ozboy said...

Comment moved to front page

disgusted said...

i personally dont think the city needs or should hold the property as a single entity. i.e. for only one company to develop as a single project which is what the city is thinking. the city recently went through a revision of the central business plan and the planning commission recently rewrote the building requirements for the area. all of these revisions should protect the intergity of the project area. there is no reason to leave it idle until another fom comes along.

by specifing the area as a single entity the city in effect is only allowing the area to be developed by deep pockets most likely from out of town which will both lock out several good local ogden developers and will cause the project to sit vacant for an extended period of time until that big developer is located.
also keeping it a single entity will encourage
- more of the same business develop problems that we are currently experiencing by having outsiders pal up to our city administration at the cost of the residents.
- big developers will ask for more concessions from the city where as the local guys will take on their projects with the strings attached.
- big developers will want a much bigger return on their development.
- big developers will be motivated to make as much profit per square foot of development rather than what is in the citys best interest. remember that once theyve built it and extracted their profit theyll be gone.
- local developers will have more ownership in the projects success as it will be part of their community.
- building it out in smaller stages will allow the property to become productive to the tax role sooner as the local economy improves in stages.
- building it out in stages will also allow the project to morph as we learn what is a working plan and what is not.
imho allowing the property to be developed by several parties is in the best interest of the city and its residents so long as the general plan is is followed.

i personally had another issue with what gadi leshems had intented. he planned to build the majority of the housing as rental property. i was perplexed in that i was under the option that the city was trying to upgrade the area not recreate more of what was already there. i thought the city would try to encourage more home/condo ownership rather than more rental property. i.e. a permanent and stable type of resident rather than a transient type of resident.
maybe the city has another chance to rethink this housing issue now that gadi seems to be in the rear view mirror. im sure that in the negotiating process there was give and take on both sides. maybe this was one issue that the city gave into on that now the city can take a stronger stance on if the city really does want to upgrade the area.

danny said...

Parent Teacher Conference Discussion

SE editorial: C+. This marks a substantial improvement. But the student still shows blindered thinking. Plan B should have included Non-Godfrey-planned approach.

Disgusted Post (above): A-. Excellent sense of the situation but still contemplates a level of central planning that is inappropriate.

Thank you for coming to parent teacher conference.

Tonight's reading assignment:

U.S. military report warns 'sudden collapse' of Mexico is possible

Curious 1 said...

Off thread but I noticed some digging and clean up work on the corner of 12th and Wall. Is the city paying for the cleanup under the table? Seems like they would be trying to find a use for the old Fred Meyer building 50 yards away.

Also noticed a new sign on the Descente Office, doesn't deem to be in compliance with city ordinace since it covers most of the building. At least the lift Ogden sign is gone. Or do city ordinances and enforcement only for the common folk of Ogden, not FOM. Seems like selective enforcement if they are not in compliance.

disgusted said...

Curious 1

youre behind the curve on 12 st. city council approved that work over a month ago at a cost to the ogden residents of $1,000,000. oh and btw the work was going on even before the city had the city council blessing or funding. another example of the mayor doing what ever he wants to with our money irregardless of any approval process.
its a bad deal too. the city is funding the environmental clean up cost at the location so the developer can build another grocery store not 3 blocks away from the one on 12th and washington. concievably the effect being that the new grocery store causes the one on 12th and washington to close so we will have two closed grocery stores. the target on 12th and wall and stop and go on 12th and washington.
the mans brilliant and the city council just goes along with him. what does that make them.

Curmudgeon said...


Get out a pen and pad and take notes please. You wrote: "Plan B should have included Non-Godfrey-planned approach." Danny, however much you might want it... even if you really really REALLY want it... no Plan B can succeed without the Mayor's participation as CEO of the City, because no matter how much you don't like it... and even if you really really REALLY don't like it... he won re-election a year ago and will be Mayor for the next three years.

If wishes were horses then beggars would ride....

Bernadette said...


I think the saying is - if wishes were whores then Rudi would get laid.

Dorrene Jeske said...

I want to thank all of you who have emailed me about the Capital Improvement Plan projects. I feel as you do, and will express your concerns Tuesday night.

Althepal, you asked, “Does anyone know whether Leshem and the City have entered into a formal written development agreement? Such an agreement would have specified the precise obligations that Mr. Leshem has undertaken with respect to the River Project, and would provide guidance about possible legal remedies in the event of breach.”
I have seen no development agreement with Mr. Leshem.

What will it cost us said...

So when will the city start to pay back the taxpayers that fund snow plowing, streets, sidewalks, or will they continue spending our money a million here a million there for private priveledged projects that will never return the investment on maybes and suppose to generate empty promises. When will the next water/sewer or tax be increased on out utilities?

Folks this is real money and obligations that is driving the city more into debt. More elite high adventure when funds are cut back for youth programs, tourist information, and not promoting Union Station and now the boarded up properties along 25th street waiting for the developer to start re-development.

I don't care if it is city money, RDA money or grant money it still is coming out of the everyday taxpayers pocket. These developers can drive hummers, BMW's and fly all over to impress the locals but how much money have they contributed out of their own pocket and not the public dole.

Real data, real numbers from indepentent sources are demanded by the citizens of Ogden and not just a wink and a nod from the Business Development folks who have been hired and paid for by the current administration.

How about someone who can write contracts that favors the cities investment rather than the current give aways that we have read about here. Why is the bond payment more than the lease payments for the Junction? Whoever holds the purse strings on the city council that approves of the mayors budget should real them in. While cities around Ogden are cutting back Ogden seems to be hiring more consultants to favor any of the mayors elite programs. When he bankrupts the city at least we will still have high adventure left in hiking the trails.

Bill C. said...

I have a hard time veiwing this veladrome as worthy of being considered a capital improvement, seems to be a real stretch. Perhaps someone can enlighten me as to any rules or criteria a project needs to conform to.
I tend to think that CIP funds are for infrastructure and maintaining and upgrading City property, and as circumstances allow, providing recreational opportunities that are owned and operated by the City.
This silly pie in the sky veladrome thing is a joke. The projection at the work session was it will cost 13 million and is a private venture. This implies that someone is going to spend 12 million and own it. Who? The cart is so far ahead one has to wonder if it's a horse, ox or jackass that's supposed to be pulling it.
I am not inclined to see this as worthy of being called a Capital improvement as far as the City is concerned, and before anyone should even ask for financial aid from the taxpayer they should have their project in the works. Land purchased, archetectual work (other than a conceptual drawing produced by City staff) and preferably actual construction started.
This would actually demonstrate that someone is truely committed and actually believes that their project has a chance of success.
It's time for the Council to refuse to even consider this role as the inititial financier of all these myopic childish wims of the most immature, disengenuous and dishonest elected official in the western U.S.

danny said...


You seem very closed minded. The city should not be in real estate at all. The land should be sold off. What happens to that land shouldn't matter who is mayor.

Criminey, there is more going on in the world than government. Get out. Talk to people.

Curmudgeon said...

You're arguing other issues. All I disagreed with was your assertion that Plan B should be developed without input from Hizzonah. Merely pointed out that no plan the Mayor opposed could succeed, just as no plan a majority of the Council opposed could succeed. So whatever Plan B develops is, if it is to work, going to have to have input from and support from both Hizzonah and the Council. That's all.

And like it or not, Danny, the River Project is a government-ramrodded project. We can argue whether it should have been, but the fact is, it is. And so, if a Plan B emerges, to be effective, it's going to have to involve both a Council majority and Hizzonah.

Hard put to see how that adds up to being "closed minded."

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