Sunday, January 17, 2010

Standard-Examiner: Godfrey Administration Reveals Identity of Proposed River Project Developer

California developer could seek yet-to-be determined monetary incentives from the city and tax increment financing to assist in the project

By Twitter Eater

The Standard-Examiner is now reporting, at long last, the name of the Godfrey Administrations' proposed River Project developer:
OGDEN -- A California-based company has submitted a master plan agreement to the Ogden Redevelopment Agency in hopes of undertaking the long-awaited Ogden River Project. Marina del Rey-based Lee Homes reportedly has completed construction projects valued at about $500 million over the last five years, and Jeff Lee, company president, said it is well positioned to oversee the building of residential and retail structures as part of the Ogden River Project."We think we are the kind of people to do a really good job for the city of Ogden," he said in a recent telephone interview. [...]
Ogden's administration presented the RDA board, made up of city council members, with a master plan agreement for the river project during a closed executive session Tuesday night, said Tom Christopulos, the city's business development manager. [...]
Lee hopes to meet with the RDA board soon to detail his company's proposal for the 60-acre mixed-use development that would straddle the Ogden River from 18th to 20th streets and Washington Boulevard to Wall Avenue. [...]
Lee said his company became aware of the river project because his father, Harlan Lee, chairman of Lee Homes, is a close friend of Gadi Leshem. [...]
Lee Homes could seek yet-to-be determined monetary incentives from the city and tax increment financing to assist in the project, Lee said.
Read the full article here:
Ogden River Project closer
Who will be the first to comment?

25 comments:

Why Am I Not Reassured said...

It's definitely time to get this show on the road. I don't know about the "monetary incentives" and "tax increment financing" part, though. Wasn't the original plan for the developer to finance this thing on his own dime? Will the taxpoayers of Ogden be expected to bear all the overhead on this, AGAIN???

whoop de doo said...

It's obviously an insider Crony deal when you look at the players. A friend of Gadi, and they are talking about monetary incentives and tax increments yet to be determined.

Watch out folks, another screwing is coming.

Dan S. said...

I wonder who leaked the developer's name to the Standard-Examiner. Christopulos apparently disclosed that the matter was discussed at Tuesday's executive session, but otherwise nobody from the council or the administration is talking on the record.

It bothers me when the Standard-Examiner relies on anonymous news tips, but doesn't admit it's relying on anonymous news tips.

As for the incentives, I wonder what incentives the city can even offer. Last month I mentioned that the River Project RDA district is scheduled to expire in 2019, and I speculated that they'll try to extend that date so they can collect additional tax increment on the project. Now we read that the development will be in phases, with the last phase to be completed in 8 to 10 years--approximately when the RDA district is set to expire. So without an extension on the expiration date, the RDA would collect no tax increment at all on the final phase, and very little on the majority of the project.

Could there be other incentives besides tax increment financing? If so, what would they be?

One way or another, this is going to get interesting.

Curmudgeon said...

Curiouser and curiouser. First, the WCF headline seems to be inaccurate. The Godfrey Administration did not, according to the story, reveal the name of the developer. Mr. Patterson and Mr. Christopulos both went into their Tar-Baby mode ["Tar-Baby, he don' say nothin'!"] Sadly joined this time by the Council's new chair, Ms. Gochnour.

I can understand the city keeping the name of the potential developer secret at the request of the developer until an agreement has been reached. But when the developer the city is negotiating with goes on the record and says "it's us" and starts giving interviews about its plans, what possible point could there be to the Administration and Council chair continuing to insist they can't name the firm? Makes little sense to me, unless there was a gentlemens agreement [so to speak] not to make the name official until Hizzonah got back from his China junket so he could stage one of those grand "announcement" photo ops he's so fond of.

The terminology of the story is a little unclear too. The administration presented to the RDA board Lee Homes' "master plan agreement." Is that the same as a "development agreement?" A development agreement is a contract between the city and the developer committing both parties to do certain things. Lee Homes says it may seek "yet to be determined monetary agreements from the city." But wouldn't such agreements be part of any development agreement?

I'd want to know this as well: will the development agreement require Lee Homes to demolish the remaining abandoned Leshamville Slum derelict homes, and to remove the debris and grade the lots, withing 90 days of the agreement being signed? If not, why not? [Surely Lee Homes is not expecting the same "don't ask don't tell" exemption from city code enforcement that Mr. Lesham seems to have gotten... is it?]

Finally, Dan S. above criticizes the SE for relying on an anonymous tip for the story without admitting it. I disagree in this case, since the company involved has, on the record, confirmed the tip, wherever the SE got it. If Lee Homes had not confirmed that it was its general plan agreement that was presented to the RDA Board, Dan's criticism would be sound. But since the company did confirm, it seems a misplaced criticism to me. The paper went public not with an anonymous tip, but with news confirmed by the company itself. That's just good reporting.

OgdenLover said...

Yet another national publication with a story about Ogden! The only thing wrong is that here, nothing stops the city's spending on unnecessary, unwanted projects.

Dan S. said...

Curm: Just to be clear, I'm not accusing the S-E of relying solely on an anonymous tip. But in many cases, I think readers have a legitimate interest in knowing as much as possible about how the paper initially acquires its information. Did the reporter pressure a city official until that person finally broke down and spilled the beans, "off the record"? Or did someone at the city want the information leaked for some reason? Or did the developer himself, or his friend Gadi Leshem, go out of his way to contact the paper? I don't see why the article couldn't have included some clue about why this is being reported now.

RudiZink said...

LOL, Curm! Awakened a little crankier than usual this morning, eh?

Although Mr. Christopoulos tiptoed around the issue, it's obvious from an "in context" reading the statements attributed to him in this morning's Schwebke story, that Mr. Christopoulos (an administration spokesman)isn't unequivocally denying that it's Mr. Lee's company who's gotten the Godfrey administration's nod as the Gadi heir-apparent for the River Project development contractor plum. If Mr. Lee's company was not the administration's developer pick, Mr. Christopolous could (and would) have simply denied the the story in toto.

In a situation such as this, a non-denial denial is as good as an explicit admission in my book, and we thus thank Mr. Christopolous for his clumsiness in letting the cat outta the bag.

Thus, we believe the headline is adequately supported by the reported facts.

Curmudgeon said...

Hildy Johnson is alive and well and living in Ogden?

Ah, Dan... an Ogden City Godfrey Gaggle official, cracking under relentless questioning by the Standard Examiner! Now there's an image to keep a news-junkie warm trudging to the coffee shoppe on a Rocky Mountain winter morning. Many thanks for that.

Curmudgeon said...

Rudi:

Well, no. "No comment" is not the same as a "non-denial denial" . If Lee Homes was not the company, I suspect Mr. C would have said simply "no comment." If he said "No, it's not Lee Homes," then reporters could simply have started running rumored developers past him to get denials, until one of them stumbled on an accurate rumor. He'd know it was accurate as soon as Mr. C. didn't deny it but said instead "No comment."

Savvy public officials know that the course of wisdom is, if you're not going to confirm what's being rumored, to refuse to confirm or deny any rumor on the topic. And, unlike so many other Godrey-appointed administrators, from what I've seen so far, Mr. C. knows how to handle himself with the press. He seems not to suffer from the recurring bouts of foot-in-mouth disease that I was beginning to think was a requirement for being a Godfrey administration appointees.

PS: Ahem. I am never cranky. As all who know me will doubtless attest, I maintain a sunny-dispositioned philosophical equanimity at all times [testimony from Mrs. Curmudgeon notwithstanding].

ozboy said...

I think the most alarming thing in this potentially "good" situation is that the new developer is reportedly a long time good friend of Gadi's. Well, there is an old saying about birds of a feather flocking together that we should be aware of. I believe that if this "new" developer is truly a long term friend of Gadi then there is a very good chance they are just as sleazy as Gadi. I am a firm believer in the notion that business people with high integrity do not hang with, or maintain long term friendships with people without it. I also do not think there is any doubt any longer as to Gadi's integrity.

Steve S said...

Dan, your missing the point. It doesn't matter how the S-E got the info as long as its accurate which apparently it is.

Dan S. said...

Steve,

There's more than one point here. When confidential information is leaked, it's natural to ask who leaked the information and why.

blackrulon said...

I am still waiting for the official announcement/identity of the business's that will move into the buildings refurbished with federal stimulus money. We had several non-announcements the last few months but still no names or more information has comeforth.

AWM said...

Couldn't care less about "how the information was leaked"..What does worry me is that the new developer is a friend of Leshams. Just flippen hard to believe that there was not another viable option out there that was not connected to Gadi..Ozboy has a it right with his "integrity" comment above...Let me guess...does this new developer have their corporate headquarters in the same strip mall where Leshem is trying to sell his tile business outlet? I would tell the developer up front that there are no more monetary incentives to be had and that because he is a "good friend" of Gadi's he's required to put down a healthy sum in escrow in case he goes south as well...

momba said...

I am a novice and don't know how to do a real search. However, when I look at their last easily found statement (2008) they aren't saying how they have done this past year, when everyone else has taken a nose dive. http://www.leehomes.net/about/about.html

Someone Up There Doesn't Like Me said...

Someone is very angry at Lee Homes.

Private Lee Held said...

The Lee Group (dba Lee Homes) is privately-held.

Buzz said...

I agree with Steve S. Dan it doesn't matter how the paper got the info. Again what matters is if it's right. Lee Homes confirmed it. Doesn't mean it was leaked. The paper could have uncovered it a number of different ways. Would you rather that the paper wait on this information?

AWM said...

This from the Lee Homes Web-site

"Presently, Lee Homes has completed development, construction and sales with a market valuation of $1.026 Billion at completion of the following: 191,850 Sq Ft of commercial; 1,748 for sale units priced from $300,000 to $1.4 million. These projects range from entry-level single family homes, for low and moderate income families, loft condominiums, luxury estates and mixed use condo/retail buildings. The company has developed over 4,500 homes, condominiums, lots and retail with values of over $2.042 Billion in the last 25 years as follows:
-1983 to 1992 – 918 units with values of $329M
-1993 to 2008 – 3,600 units with values of $1.713 Billion

Lee Homes provides development, planning/design, construction and sales & marketing management consulting services to our owner, developer and bank clients. This invaluable service makes a critical difference in the success of our client’s ventures because Lee Homes is part of the TEAM. This will remain an important part of the Lee Homes operation.

The current 2008 downturn in the housing market has created opportunities for Lee Homes to buy distressed real estate at a reduced cost basis. The company is working with several banks, developers, owners and others to purchase projects that can be restructured, built and sold at sales pricing that will be competitive in today’s market place."

Jennifer Neil said...

Interesting thing on their website regarding working in redevelopment areas is : "Lee Homes has created very successful working relationships with many (1) Southern California cities and their redevelopment agencies to design and build homes on small parcels of land located within mature urban areas." **What experience do they have building in areas that have seasonal changes; there are certain requirements and necessary criteria in building materials for an area that reaches extremes (at both ends) in temperature change. **

"In each instance, Lee Homes was (2) selected by the municipality in a competition with other home builders." ** Was an RFP issued? and who responded (in other words, who was the competition)? Did they get the "IN" because the head honcho is good friends with Gadi Leshem? Is this a GRAMA issue? **

"Creative land use solutions, innovative design, and an ability to work with various government agencies characterizes Lee Homes' strong track record in this arena."

Let's get some scrutiny going on that track record ...

TLJ

Wm III said...

... deals done in the dark eventually come to light ...

Stephen M. Cook said...

Politics have no relation to morals.
Remember, no enterprise is more likely to succeed than one concealed from the enemy until it is ripe for execution.

Curmudgeon said...

JN:

I don't know if Lee Homes is a responsible and successful builder or not. I've read the postings on the "attack" site included in post above, and would merely note that I know few major developers of tract homes/condos [i.e. not custom built homes]do not have some ticked off customers who take to the web to complain. The complaints on the website may be valid, may not be. I don't know.

But I hope after the Ernest fiasco, the Administration will not, this time round, consider attempts by council members to conduct due diligence in re: Lee Homes record as a builder/developer, and its ability to complete the project successfully, as unwarranted rudeness and intolerable effrontery. Recall after the Council merely asked Ernest some questions about its financial resources and ability to complete the project it was proposing, the Godfrey Administration threw a snit fit [assisted by less than thorough work by the SE on the story back then], and attacked the Council for daring to so much as ask such questions. [Worth nothing I think that in the end Ernest made an agreement with the city to build in the River Project RDA, then backed out when it said it didn't have the resources to complete the job successfully.]

Asking questions is the Council's job --- it's main job when matters like this are presented to it --- whether the administration likes the questions being asked or not.

Dorothy Littrell said...

Any friend of Gadi's is immediately put on my suspect list because any friend of Gadi's is going immediately to qualify as a buddy of the Mayor.

Being a buddy of the Mayor automatically qualifies one for special perks and privileges....or haven't you noticed....

Be prepared for any attempt to change the name of Ogden to Gadiville

Jennifer Neil said...

Dorothy,
what it makes me think about is all the stuff Gadi may have told the Lee guys about what he has gotten away with in not working with the city of Ogden -- no enforcement codes citations, no worries about worsening the blight problem instead of fixing it - actually probably using it a a HUGE business loss, and Godfrey is still on his side .. so this Lee guy thinks he wold be able to do the same by moving into Ogden: milk us dry and leave the mayor hanging; trouble is he would be leaving the entire city and the next mayor hanging as well!

Gentle Readers: check the sidebar of the main WCF blog page to find City Council members emails - let them know how you feel - flood them today if you can! If they know what the people who voted for them want, they need to take that into consideration -- absolutlely. Emailing the mayor would do no good, but worth a try anyway. Have at it!

TLJ

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