Monday, August 31, 2009

Ogden City Decides How to Blow $310 K in Federal Stimulus Funds

Boss Godfrey funnels federal stimulus dollars to select private property owners

Upon the earlier request of gentle reader disgusted, we'll belatedly refer to an article which inexplicably appeared this morning only in the Standard-Examiner hard-copy and Digital Edition versions this morning, but not in the Live! Edition:
Ogden starts using stimulus funds/City hopes rehabilitating buildings will boost downtown development
For openers, here's our above-named reader's setup on the subject:
Rudi
You need to post the article in todays paper local section about the city funneling dollars to private property owners on washington and 23rd to fix up their buildings. the city is going to lease the building from the fom who own the buildings and then the city is going to try and sub-lease the buildings per the article. City bd admits that its a hard time to rent out space.
Sounds like another drain on the residents
It's late in the day, so we'll skip our own analysis and simply open a thread dedicated to the discussion of today's Ace Reporter Schwebke story. Sorry disgusted; we'd intended to put this up earlier in the day... but we got distracted and flat forgot.

In the interest of keeping this and other threads on topic, we'll also move the several reader comments which have already been lodged in response to disgusted's earlier query over here.

Have at it disgusted, and the two other readers who have demonstrated interest in this topic. At Weber County Forum, we always aim to please our gentle readers.

14 comments:

Ogden Dem said...

Aren't these the same buildings that Amy Wicks mentioned awhile ago that the owners owed back taxes? Is Matt covering that too with the federal stimulus dollars?

Curmudgeon said...

Well, there are competing public interests here. I have my doubts about whether the City should be using stimulus funds to completely renovate and made ready for occupation business properties that do not have tenants wanting to move in.

On the other hand, having the buildings deteriorate further is absolutely not in the public interest.

I am not involved in any way in commercial real estate and so I am not speaking from a position of any particular knowledge, but seems to me a more prudent use of the money would have been one [or both] of the following:

1. Use some of the money to perform necessary maintenance to prevent further deterioration of the properties.

2. Use the money as a lure to potential occupants of the commercial spaces --- e.g. "if your Universal Home Widget Store will sign an X year lease for the space, Ogden will use stimulus funds to make the building ready for your occupation, parking lot included."

No, that's not how things ought to operate normally. But the purpose of this particular pot of stimulus money is to put people back to work and improve the business climate. But doing full renovations with no occupants in sight... doing them purely on spec, with the public's money... doesn't seem like the best use to which the money could be put at this time.

And before the Godfrey Gaggle begin chanting "you are all naysayers, all you do is complain, you never suggest anything " again, let me suggest again an idea that might be worth pursuing.

What downtown storefront businesses need is more people downtown more often. So perhaps Ogden might give some thought to using stimulus money on projects that have a proven record of bringing people to downtowns. And not just occasional visitors, but residents. Over and over.

For example, suppose a portion of the vacant lot just north of the Sonora Grill and just east of the Climbing wall became an outdoor - skating rink/multi use plaza along the lines of Galavan Plaza in SLC? [If the few benches before the climbing wall at The Junction were supposed to make the little plaza down there a gathering place, they've failed.]

People come to skate, and people come to watch skaters, even in the cold. NY, SLC, elsewhere. It would be a winter draw for both skaters and the public, I would think, at a time when there isn't a whole lot of foot traffic downtown. [Also might be a draw for a hotel if solvent investors interested in building one there ever can be found.] The space in summer could be used for other public-draws, again [to a lesser extent] like Galivan Plaza. Different situation, but same idea.

And more foot traffic downtown means inevitably a better environment for the commercial storefronts, at the Junction and on Washington. Most places I've seen urban outdoor skating rinks they have acted as a magnet for foot traffic.

Just an idea. Perhaps it might pay a lot more dividends for downtown commerce than top-to-bottom renovations of storefronts nobody seems to want to lease at the moment.

disgusted said...

curm

i have two problems with the deal.

one the city is investing stimulus money into private property. private property not public property. i think the city should have used the money for public improvements that would have benefited the residents rather than a few fom.

second i think there is a good chance that the city will be on the hook to pay rent on these building for a long period of time. none of which is factored into the cost to the residents. its one thing to do the repairs its another to then lease the buildings. especially when you dont have a sublet tenant for the building that youve leased. i wonder how long a lease did the city sign.

i strongly suspect though that the real reason that the city leased the building was because it was a requirement of the feds that the city have some reason to use the funds on a private building. which make me wonder if this was how the program funds were actually designed to be spent i.e. on private property.

disgusted said...

so the feds kicked in $310,000 dollars. what will the residents have to kick in. by that i mean in terms of lease payments made by the city to the building owners until the city finds tenants for the buildings or the leases expires.

curious 1 said...

When did the city loose it's charter to provide services for the citizens? This is private enterprize at its worse, sucking at the taxpayers tit until it runs dry. The money comes from somewhere, it doesn't float from thin air.

If the properties are deliquent in taxes then no money should be spent on them, plain and simple.

Where does the Windsor hotel stand now that it has been a year since the work stopped, same with Star Noodle. How many more empty shells and businesses can Ogden afford to have empty?

Dan S. said...

I would be very interested to see the contracts between the city and the owners of these buildings. Apparently the city now gets to control who leases the buildings. It bothers me that the city is becoming Ogden's largest commercial landlord, so you can't do business in certain parts of town without permission from Matt Godfrey. I also wonder where the lease payments are going. If the city is receiving part or all of the lease payments, how will it use this money?

Rafiki said...

I found an example of a much better way to spend the people's money.

Park City pays $5 million to preserve canyon

Blaine Carl said...

You posters above have basically convinced me about how some of this stimulus money should be spent. Pretty good ideas on the whole, especially Curm's skating rink (read about NYC's and how Trump had to basically make it over and take it over, but after doing so it did become a magnet for drawing people back downtown).

All of this is well and good, but I have a question: does anyone know what earmarks come with this stimulus money (how it should be spent? when it should be spent? on whome or what it should be spent? or, is it just flat up to the recipient)?

Curmudgeon said...

Disgusted:

You wrote:

one the city is investing stimulus money into private property. private property not public property. i think the city should have used the money for public improvements that would have benefited the residents rather than a few fom.

No argument from me on that point.

And you wrote: second i think there is a good chance that the city will be on the hook to pay rent on these building for a long period of time. none of which is factored into the cost to the residents. its one thing to do the repairs its another to then lease the buildings. especially when you dont have a sublet tenant for the building that you've leased. i wonder how long a lease did the city sign.

Again, no argument from me there either. I could argue there is a legitimate public purpose in not having the buildings degrade further and so some public money spent on protective maintenance might be justified. But no more than that. And certainly if more than that is to be done, it should only be done as part of a lease agreement with a tenant up front. I don't think even that would be a good idea, but it would be preferable to the city leasing the empty buildings, doing renovations, all without any tenant in sight, and then trying to find a tenant [thus competing with the city subsidized Junction store front shops for which Boyer and Ogden can't seem to find tenants either.]

There is another public purpose served by the renovations: they will employ people, creates some jobs, puts some paychecks in some pockets [which after all was the main purpose of the stimulus bill.] But there are ways to do that that would serve public interests better than the one Hizzonah's Ogden City Real Estate Collective Commissariat has planned.

Ray Vaughn said...

When I read about where stimulus money is spent I remember the saying from watergate. "Follow The Money"

tom said...

There is not a word in this article that indicates who owns these properties. That seems to me to be a pretty fundamental story element when it comes to hundreds of thousands of tax payer dollars being applied to some ones private property.

It would also be very pertinent if the owners of these benefactory properties are friends of the mayor's as so many around town suspect.

Danny said...

Unbelievable.

Godfrey now picks people and just hands them money.

I feel foolish. After all these years, I still can't fully predict how idiotic and corrupt people can be.

Danny said...

To be constructive, here's what they should do.

If the properties are that bad, condemn them and buy them for their present value (probably zero). Then, auction them off, offering the cash fix-up money to whoever wins the auction.

That way, the property turns over to competent people.

Godfrey's way, the property is kept in the hands of the incompetent people (but personal supporters of his).

Understand this, people. We are spending trillions in this country to prop up the incompetent and circumvent free enterprise.

That's why this recession will get worse and will last a very long time. In fact, it may be the new order of things. America, we don't deserve you, and we're trying our best to prove it.

Blaine Carl said...

Google "Stimulus Watch" and maybe some of your questions can be answered.

Stimulus Watch is a program that receives citizen input regarding projects, some "shovel ready," from CDBGs to Infrastructure to Main Street. Interesting how people could have, or maybe still could, GET INVOLVED before all these flame throwers were lit up.

And I've yet to read an answer to my earlier question: is the stimulus money a "use it or loose it" proposition?

Post a Comment

© 2005 - 2014 Weber County Forum™ -- All Rights Reserved