Wednesday, March 18, 2009

More Action at Ogden City's 12th & Wall - UPDATED

Is the Commons at Ogden shopping center project about to fold?

Intriguing Scott Schwebke story this morning, about that Commons at Ogden shopping center project, which has been optimistically slated for construction at 12th and Wall. The project seems to have developed a glitch, involving the project's anticipated anchor tenant, as Mr. Schwebke reports:
OGDEN -- The city council agreed Tuesday night to rezone about 21 acres at the southwest corner of 12th Street and Wall Avenue for a big-box grocery store despite a possible snag with the project.
The Utah Department of Transportation won't install a traffic light at 14th Street and Wall Avenue, said Spencer Wright, a project manager for Wright Development, which is undertaking the proposed Commons at Ogden shopping center project.
As a result, it's unclear whether WinCo Foods, based in Boise, Idaho, will move ahead with construction of a 95,000-square-foot store that would anchor the shopping center, Wright said. [...]
A stoplight is needed at 14th Street and Wall Avenue to allow motorists traveling north and south to safely access WinCo's parking lot, Wright said.
However, a light at that location isn't feasible because it's too close to a traffic signal at 12th Street and Wall Avenue, said Vic Saunders, a public involvement manager for UDOT.
Yet strangely, the ever optimistic Boss Godfrey doesn't seem to recognize any problem at all, despite the red flag raised by Mr. Wright:
City Council Vice Chairwoman Caitlin K. Gochnour asked Mayor Matthew Godfrey during Tuesday's night's meeting whether UDOT was cooperating with Wright Development regarding the shopping center project.
"It's going well with UDOT," Godfrey said, responding to Gochnour's question.
One thing ya gotta love about Boss Godfrey is his constant and unflagging optimism.

As regular WCF readers will recall, the city council has already earmarked a cool $1 million in capital improvement funds toward this project. However, according to Richard McConkie, these funds haven't yet been released, due to a purported "contingency":
However, none of the funds have been allocated because WinCo hasn't signed a contract with Wright Development, said Richard McConkie, the city's deputy director of community and economic development.
What's really interesting here is the seemingly sheer flakiness the legal relationships of all the interested parties to this transaction. Even though WinCO Foods remains yet contractually uncommitted to building its mega grocery store, Wright Development has nevertheless reportedly expended "a considerable amount of money for environmental cleanup of the property," (no doubt in anticipation of reimbursement by the city.) Even more strangely, Wright Development's own interest in the property amounts to a mere "purchase option," rather than rights which would derive from a proper purchase agreement. Moreover, throughout the relatively thorough Std-Ex reporting of this project, there's been no mention of a "development agreement" between Wright Development and Ogden City, or any other party for that matter, which leads us to wonder whether the ultimate allocation of the council's $1 million is actually subject to any legally enforceable contingencies at all. The fact that the Std-Ex hasn't mentioned a development agreement of course doesn't mean that such an agreement doesn't exist. Still, reference to such an agreement is conspicuous in its absence from the Std-Ex's generally good reporting to date.

If indeed it's true that Wright has already spent significant money on this project in the absence of any written documents to protect its interests, it's put itself well out on a limb... which raises the next couple of questions:

Is Wright Development depending on an unwritten "handshake deal" with the Godfrey administration? Has the administration made behind the scenes verbal representations which might be enforceable under the law of torts, rather than the law of contracts, in the event that this project folds? It's difficult for us to believe that a competent developer would be expending significant monies on a half-baked project like this unless it had some assurances of reimbursement in the event the "expected" anchor tenant were to pull the plug. Are we witnessing here the first murmurings of the next Godfrey centered lawsuit, in the event that WinCo Foods takes a pass on this project?

So many questions... so few answers.

Perhaps a few Ogden City connected readers can fill in the blanks on this story.

Comments are again invited on this otherwise slow news Wednesday morning.

Update 3/18/09 1:20 p.m. MT: Gentle reader Monotreme "axed" for it... and thanks to the efforts of yet another attentive and sharp-eyed WCF reader who alerted us to this... here's the graphic contribution of one WCF poster who without a doubt responds to mono's siren call for a good and well-executed UDOT poster for permanent display above Boss Godfrey's desk:

We have a good thing going on here at Weber County Forum. No doubt about it. Don't withhold your gentle comments, fellow lumpencitizens.
Merely because you may have a St. Paddy's Day hangover, after gulping down multiple liters of of green beer and a few dozen shots of Jamesons or Bushmills on Two-five Drive yesterday (hopefully at Brewskis or the City Club, where they'll limo you home when you're "in you cups.") ... along with our new cranky poster Svengali ... Please don't just clam up!

Time to clear out the cobwebs, people.

REAL Irishmen always get up fresh-faced in the morning, prepared to carry on The Revolution.

More cranky comments, please.


Ernie the Attorney said...

Don't overlook the Law of Quasi-contracts, Rudi.

This situation has to be driving Ogden City Attorney Gary Williams nuts.

Bill C. said...

Ernie, are you suggesting that the property owner, which happens to be a stumbling block on the river, will be the beneficiary of a quasi contract by having his contaminated property cleaned up on the city's nickel, thus increasing his property value and making him more amiable in his dealing with gadi, or the city, whoever winds up going forward with the endless river project?

Anonymous said...

We just thought it was amusing that they were planning on building two major grocery stores within a few blocks from each other.

And neither will have much real food. If you examine the floor space, they will both be mostly candy, chips, crackers, soda, dog food, and cheap plastic seasonal items.

Just what Ogden needs, more junk food outlets.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and if the news is slow this morning, its because of the Baileys, Whiskey, and other green consumables from last night.

This was One Drunk Town.

The Lovely Jennifer said...

From the tongue-in-cheek Dept.:

Oh, they could install a middle-of-the-road curb similar to the one at 12th and Washington.

That way, you cannot access it unless you are heading south.

North Ogden put one of those in front of the new Zions Bank branch just south of Smith's - you need to be heading north to get in.

Traffic problem solved, light problem solved.

Side to RJS - really, now?

Monotreme said...

There is a pattern of behavior here.

Recall that the city didn't seem to be able to communicate with UDOT regarding the construction of a barrier at Park Ave and Washington.

Also, when Mrs. Monotreme and I met with the city's planning staff, I mentioned that closing Washington Blvd as part of downtown "revitalization" was going to cause problems because it was a US Highway. The idea that US Highways belong to the state, and not to the city, seemed to be a new concept to them.

So, here it is: state and US highways are the responsibility of UDOT. City streets are the responsibility of the city. Maybe you can get it made up as a motivational poster and placed at strategic locations in the Municipal Building.

Anonymous employee said...

Bubba's trailers is being kicked out of their Ogden location to make way for this new store. They do over $2,000,000 a year in sales and have donated trailers to the fire department and Christmas village. Do you think this would still be happening if they had made campaign contribution?

althepal said...

"Yet strangely, the ever optimistic Boss Godfrey doesn't seem to recognize any problem at all, despite the red flag raised by Mr. Wright"

What Godfrey clearly lacks in good judgment, he definitely compensates for in optimism.

Monotreme said...

The S-E archives appear to be down. Here's the WCF story from the earlier miscommunication between Ogden City and UDOT:

UDOT and Godfrey: A Failure to Caw-Muhn-I-Cayt?

If you compare the earlier story to today's, I'm sure you'll see the parallels.

Optimism, yes; learning from one's mistakes, not so much.

danny said...

Let's see.

We have empty retailing space all over the city, so let's use tax money to build more retailing space.

Like globally, we have unsold cars piling up, but governments are propping up incompetent car companies so they can build still more cars.

Growing stocks of unsold cars around the world

City council, just say no. Get out of the business of business. Godfrey doesn't know what he's doing and neither do you.

monotreme said...

Thanks for the poster. It's a beauty.

Here's the earlier S-E piece about
miscommunication between Godfrey and UDOT.

Perhaps UDOT should get all Strother Martin on Mayor Godfrey.

disgusted said...

the citys business development department is so weak its embarrassing.

one of the stupidest things here is that the city may find that it is obligated to spend its time and money trying to get the Dairy Farmers of America to pay for the environmental clean up. a clean up that will not yield any additional tax revenues which was the basis of reason given to the city council to agree to the use of cip funds. no project no tax revenues.

now we wont have the revenues but we may have the expense until the city's hired legal team gets the money or some part of it back from the Dairy Farmers of America. this could take years and could cost a small fortune in legal fees.

disgusted said...

out topic for a second

if you drop everything right now and drive down to union station you might catch the tail end of the party going on down there in the main hall. cheer leaders balloons and i think the mayor.

seems the city is now trying to recruit the Arena Football League to town. suggesting that they could have a home in the veladoom.
this is the same league that cancelled their season this year for lack of funds. godfrey always pick a solid team.

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