Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Standard-Examiner: Bonds Sought for Ogden Hotel Project

Here we go again with another Boss Godfrey borrowing and spending spree

By Curmudgeon

The Standard Examiner reports this morning "[t]he administration is seeking support from the Ogden Redevelopment Agency to obtain $12 million in tax-exempt bonds from the state for construction of an underground parking garage and an upscale multistory hotel at The Junction."

Read the full story here:
Bonds sought for Ogden hotel project
I don't know if this particular project is a sound one or not. But the Administration's statements asking for the Council's support of bonding for it should be sounding alarms on the Council, for we've heard much the same from the Administration before regarding projects that collapsed.

For example, the article says this:"In addition to Sequoia Development, two other firms are interested in pursuing the hotel project, said John Patterson, the city's chief administrative officer. He did not identify the companies." Uh ho. More companies eager to invest megabucks in Ogden that the Administration assures us are there, but which it cannot name. Like the manufacturers outlet stores the Administration assured us were coming to the three city-rehabbed commercial properties on Washington, but which it wouldn't name? Which stores never showed. Or the exporters of Chinese jewelry the Mayor discovered on his taxpayer-funded trip to China who he could not name but he assured us were eager to come to Ogden? They didn't. Or the exporters of "high end Mexican goods" the Administration would not name eager to locate in Ogden. Nary a sign of them so far.

And now Pureheart assures us two more companies are "interested" in the downtown hotel construction project... but of course he won't name them. What a surprise.

But there's more: Terrence Bride, Senior Project Coordinator for the city assures the RDA that the Administration is "confident the city's application for the bond funds will win approval from the state." How nice. Of course, the Administration was also "confident" private donors would provide $1.4 million in funding for Mayor Godfrey's Downtown Outdoor Year Round Ice Climbing Popsicle. No donor funding appeared and the project died. And of course the Administration was "confident" the City would never have to pay a dime for the Junction's construction bonds it guaranteed. We know how that worked out. And of course the Administration told us it was "confident" that Mr.Lesham would complete the River Project as promised. He didn't. The list goes on and on. But Mr. Bride is "confident" about state funding for the garage. How reassuring.

Finally, has the administration provided full information to the Council regarding the project and its projected funding, so the Council can make an informed decision? Ah.... no. From the story: "Actual support from the RDA for the parking garage and hotel project may come at a later date as more information from the administration becomes available, Gochnour said." Wonderful. On the basis of what the Council Chair concedes is incomplete information, she apparently wants to proceed with the letter endorsing the bonding now, in hopes that Hizzonah will condescend to tell the Council more later. How touching, particularly since the Mayor hid from the Council Chair and the rest of the Council and the public its request to UTA to change Ogden downtown bus routes, a change which flew in the face of the Council's commitment to encouraging public transit in Ogden. "You can trust us. We'll tell you what you to know later, after you've committed to the project we won't fully inform you about now" seems sufficient to satisfy the Council these days.

What's that old saying? "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me ten times, shame on me?" Something like that.

30 comments:

Dan S. said...

Putting aside Curm's complaints about hard-to-believe promises, this article seems to clarify the basic framework for this bonding proposal.

The $3 million for the parking garage would be repaid through a special assessment tax on the hotel.

The $9 million for the hotel itself would be repaid directly by the hotel owner.

I believe this arrangement is similar to what's being proposed for across the street, on the east side of Washington.

I'm still unclear on who, exactly, would be lending this money, and on what sorts of guarantees they would require in the event that the hotel goes bankrupt or something like that.

Notably absent in the article is any mention of tax-increment financing. Is the administration proposing to use any of the Junction's tax increment collection to fund this project? That's certainly what they were hinting at last year, when the duration of the tax increment collection was extended.

Also, how does the mayor's $700,000 budget request for parking garages relate to this bonding proposal? Does this mean that the bonding wouldn't cover the full cost, and capital improvement funds would have to make up the difference?

Bert said...

I believe Jennifer nailed it in her June 21st WCF guest editorial

While more fiscally prudent cities like Bountiful adopt austerity measures, our spendthrift city council prepares to run up more public debt, and spend like drunken sailors with a couple of days shore leave.

Who elected these knuckleheads anyway?

Oh yeah... US.

Observer said...

Reading between the lines of another incompetent Schwebke article -

We have the administration's pitch, with a single quote from Gochnour expressing skepticism.

In other words, it is an article consisting of 99.99% Godfrey administration and .01% anybody else, including the RDA board who will decided.

Schwebke could have written this article from bed without ever going to the meeting.

FOXFAN said...

Having read the linked bonding story and Curmudgeon's nicely written piece, I've come to the conclussion that this is probably not the right time to bond for a multistory hotel project at the Junction. Parking? To me, that's OK, as parking availability is a needed infrastructure that goes a long ways toward loring tenants and businesses into the downtown area.


That being said, the proposed funding for such parking should come from a position of caution with little or no responsibility to the people, or from the BDO. What with the BDO carrying the load for the Junction deficite, enough golden eggs have been taken from the goose's nest. I would hope that the CC considers this when, at a leter date, "more information from the administration becomes available," according to Chair Gouchner.

The wheels turn slowly, but I'm beginning to see the reasons for doubt regarding promises, further information, yet to be named partners, et al that the Administration uses in an attempt to move some of its projects forward. There absolutely has to be more transparency in these so-called deals and proposals. The people should know what's going on instead of the secrecy that comes from the 9th Floor.

Bridge for Sale said...

A quick internet search on members of the Ogden City Business Development team would lead one to believe that proceeding cautiously is advised with these clowns.

Terrence Bride Resume

Ogden City Business Development - Administrative Bios

Chutzpah and positive thinking within the group of Godfrey hires do not equal common sense when it comes to economic issues in our fair town.

Observer said...

Reading between the lines, these guys have simple experience, that they have inflated to the moon.

Perfect fit for our unaccomplished, self-important mayor.

ozboy said...

FoxFan

I see you have followed your doctors advice and gone back on your meds. Your last post shows a remarkable move back toward sanity. In fact it was down right rational!

ozboy said...

BridgeForSale

It is interesting to note that the resume of Terrence Bride shows he worked for Flying J for the last ten years or so in the department that built all their travel plazas. Nowhere does he mention that Flying J went into a huge bankruptcy action based in part on the total fiasco that their travel plaza business created. The company is just now coming out of bankruptcy a mere shadow of what they pretended to be when they appeared to be flying high.

Just the kind of experience Ogden needs as it flies into the face of rational business practices by expanding its borrowing and building in the era of a complete melt down in the real estate markets.

William Kidd said...

The difference between a parrot and the city council is obvious. You can train a parrot to say no.

Curmudgeon said...

Oh, Oz, I'm not sure I'd want to hold employees of companies that go belly up responsible for their having gone belly up --- unless they were on the Board or high enough to have made the policy decisions that led to the downfall. Having "worked in the department that built Flying J Plazas" seems a thin reed on which to float responsibility for the company's troubles.

I'm not a student of Flying J's problems, but as I recall the newspaper accounts, what got them into trouble was taking on debt to acquire rivals and to expand rapidly, which debt they could not manage when the bottom fell out of the economy. Those decisions were made pretty high up.

Guilt by association is sometimes worth noting [e.g. Hizzonah's cosying up with UTA fat cat England on several occasions, and cosying down with his cronies in the History 25th Street Association who kept looking at visitors coming to the street from the Frontrunner station by bus, and asking "who invited all those tacky people?"], but I wouldn't extend guilt by association to people who happen to work for failed companies. I've known a few who worked for companies that went under. Fine folks, most of 'em, who I'd hire in a heartbeat if I were looking for employees.

Curmudgeon said...

That should be Mr. Inglish of UTA,I think, not England. My apologies. The World Cup is too much with me just now, I'm afraid.

Curmudgeon said...

And in a perhaps not un-related story, the SL Trib is reporting this:

To cope with the sagging real-estate market, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has lowered prices on a large condo project in its City Creek development in downtown Salt Lake City.

Under construction at 35 E. 100 South, The Regent is set for completion in mid- to late 2011. The 20-story project, which will have 150 units, was originally priced starting from around $300,000 to as much as $1.7 million. The church said prices now start in the mid-$100,000s.



Full story here.

Of course, City Creek development is being done with private money. Have to wonder, though, if the LDS Church project is cutting the asking price of its new condos fifty percent, is this the time for mid-sized cities like Ogden to risk millions more in public funds to underwrite more speculative commercial ventures?

Just askin'....

Reality said...

The LDS Church tends to side with this forecast

blackrulon said...

What are the current occupancy rates for local hotels? What are the projections for occupancy for the next few years? Who will pay the money if the hotel does not meet expenses? Wasn't one of the problems with the old Ogden City mall the parking garage? Will a underground parking garage have similar problems? How much money will the builder out towards construction? What is the financial ability of the selected builder/developer? And most important, will it be accessible to a tram?

local worker said...

just as an experiment, as i was pulling out of my driveway at 25.5 Wall avenue, I pulled out my pocket camera, and pointed it at the day laborers standing curbside waiting for under-the-table work. all fifteen: all. fifteen., immediately pulled their ball cap dopn low over their eyes and walked purposely away from the lens and towards saint annes center. now perhaps it is just me, but really, all 15? fleeing felons? camera shy, thinking I am stealing their souls? undoculneted workers? who knows. But not one waved and smiled at the camera.
seems a small group of Ogdenites could clean up the edges of the broad field of society just by taking turns doing likewise with a camera a few mornings a week. better still, film the licence plate numbers of the business men stopping to bargain for cheap labor at any costs, including business tax evasion. i am curious to know the names of local contractors who are anti-obama and pro-strict immigration enforcement who are also taking advantage of the "no one is looking" rule. it might be a wake up call to the local republican party to find that some of their most vocal sup[porters on emigration law and enforcement are also the ones doing the hiring. jus' sayin this fine morning.

Biker Babe said...

@blackrulon: the word is Gondola ..

js,
BB

FOXFAN said...

Rational or not, here's a thought (thanks, Oz):

With the bus routes along 25th Street history, will there now become a lack of pedestrain traffic, shoppers, etc. who visit that area? And if so, will the Mayor and Conlin's Association suddenly realize this and attempt to come up with a peoples' transit/delivery system that will solve this hypothetical problem?

Probably.


And will their answer be something like a, well, say a "gondola." Running right up the middle of Two Bit, lending both utility and romance to the street?

Probably.

Are the pieces beginning to fall into place?

Probably?

Stephen M. Cook said...

We still are of the mind, the sight of bullet hole and BB gun-strafed mostly-empty cars running from Malans down to the corner of Grant and 25th would be an enduring testament to the foresight of the Godfrey years.
"The clouds on the horizon mean nothing, yeoman Patterson, hoist her mains".

Let `em build it, three of ourselves chime-in; it will be paint chipped rust and history sticking up out of the cracked pavement, much sooner than later.
Human hubris never ceases to effect wonder.

As for the Business Association, Mr. Conlin, and public transportation? The main players are pragmatic environmentalists, and are looking out for two bit in the grand tradition of downtown commerce.
As for ourselves, we would like to see 25th become a 10 miles an hour, one way street with a city-loop trolley, eclectic shopping district.

We also would like to see Star Noodle, Helena, and Angelos flush with imaginative tenants and well-dressed building fronts.
The Mayor needs to narrow his focus to the innumerable unfinished projects he has engendered, act like a responsible steward and public servant; you know: finish up the day, clean up the shop, put away the tools.
Its what grandpa would have done.

get er' done said...

The line for free hand outs begins in front of the muni-building and I will stretch all he way to the river. the city has so much money that they are now just giving it away. get you hand out and come to Ogden. It pays to live in OGDEN. Just ask all those on corporate welfare.

ozboy said...

Mr. Curmudgeon

Sorry, that defense was tried at Nuremberg. It didn't work there either.

Mr. Bride was a "decider" in the fiasco of Flying J flying into financial disaster.

After J. Call died, One of his Lieutenants by the name of Adams, along with a small group of managers, gained control of Flying J. They very quickly threw off the restraints formerly applied by the company founder Mr. Call and plunged headlong into buying and building stuff on easy credit (ala Matt Godfrey style).

Mr. Call loved to fly - thus "Flying J" - which sadly is losing its name as well. Even more sadly, this very fine home grown and very successful company builder, J. Call, Flew his Biz Jet into the ground one day thus setting the company on the path of destruction as well as it fell into the hands of incompetents.

It was the same kind of madness, dishonesty and incompetence practiced by the Godfreyites and it is no surprise that the little wizard would hire a known practitioner with a proven track record of being a loser. The guy will fit in right nicely with the Godfreyite cabal.

Time to resolve this said...

Cook has a pretty good idea--a trolley. My thoughts are that a trolley or two, originating at the Front Runner station, then routing through the downtown area, to include 25th Street and the other amenities and attractions that people might come to town for, would solve the public transportation problem, or lack thereof, in the downtown area.

As for all of these proposed "links" from downtown to the University and hospital, that everyone seems to be discussing and positioning themselves, let common sense be our guide. I doubt that a TRAX system is needed, or would work, because it's too damned expensive. There is absolutely no way in hell some gondola would resolve the problem, as gondolas are designed to carry skiers, not people headed for various destinations. Are buses the answer? I don't know, in that buses are combersome and basically unattractive, not to mention the fact that they spew exhaust all over the place with every depression of the gas pedal. But something exists and it's high time things move forward.

In Charlotte, NC, they have a system that seems to work quite well. A TRAX type train runs from various pick up areas through the middle of downtown and in and out of the convention center. Route tributaries come on and off the main line, so to speak, and some cool, newly built in the old style cable car vehicles, that allow for people to sit inside or stand on running boards while holding onto grab rails outside (sort of like the cable cars of San Francisco) are the main vehicular system.

Don't know if that's the answer or not, but it seems to work fine there and I had no problem getting about the city using their transportation system.

Now, as far as the route goes, what the hey is the argument between 26th Street, 36th street, 25th Street or any other street that heads East off of Washington Blvd. Seems like a simple solution to do a traffic count, see what street will cost the least amount of money to convert and what street would lesst inconvenience the people who live on it. Once the route hits Harrison, who cares how it loops through the University and eventually winds up at the hospital?

I can't imagine all of the hulabaloo that this issue has raised, from the Administration to the UTA and to the various groups of people who all claim that theirs is the right way and the only way. It's a time killer and could be resolved with some clear headed thinking.

It's things like this that take time away from other, more pressing issues that need adressing, from both sides. I understand the "no gondola" thing, it absolutely makes no sense at all, but I can't seem to get my arms around what difference it makes over what street is used to move the public from Washington to Harrison. And this goes to both sides that have a postion on theirs is the best route.

Why not just go the most simple way, make it convenient for those who REALLY need to use public transportation, if it's possible, work in harmony to get this done (but get it done) and then move on to other and more pressing issues.

Dan S. said...

TTRT,

The route between Washington and Harrison matters a great deal, because the streetcar will stop two or three or four times in between, and there may or may not be a significant number of people who want to get on and off at those stops. And it's not just a question of where people want to get on an off now; it's also a question of which neighborhoods are likely to be developed into transit-friendly zones. I don't see a lot of promise for 36th Street in that respect.

Off the thread but....... said...

Off the thread but........

I noticed some city trucks and a number of workers - presumably city employees - pulling up sod on the east side of the Mount Ogden tennis courts today. One would guess that the John Gullo $40K donation for some pickleball courts is being put to work. If Mr. Gullo is footing the bill, how come the city presence at the construction site? Maybe Ogden City needs some sod somewhere and this is a great opportunity to come up with a bunch, sound plausible? In any event, I guess the City Council ironed out the Capital Improvement Plan ammendment so that work could proceed - or so it would appear

mayors buddy said...

So much for the City spotlight ordinance. The business is just as big of or worse of an annoyance as the titty bar. Why isnt that damn thing out of order?

Ray said...

Comment bumped to front page

Curmudgeon said...

Comment moved to new article

Time To Resolve This said...

Dan S, no matter where the transit system stops on its way east from Washington to Harrison, someone has to walk somewhere once he or she gets off. 36th is already an artery, packed with traffic and in need of re-doing. Throw in a public transportation system and it seems like a logical route to me.

26th street is full of houses that aren't on any "save the house" or "restoration" list (except for the Jefferson Ave area), there are businesses that dot the street between Washington and Harrison, and from my layman's eye, it appears that that street would be one of the easier streets to prep for public transportation.

25th Street has many houses, all near Harrison, including the old Weber Club, that should be preserved, but the again, this street seems like it would be easy to prep and the route would be visually nice.

One of these days, all of you environmentalists and those who take a more practical look at things besides whales and trees, will have to come together, settle on a route, and get the public a ride.

The problem, as I see it is, nobody will budge from their position. Everyone seems to have dug their heels in and are there for the long haul, meanwhile letting the people go without transportation and ride the antiquated system we now have.

There's a compromise somewhere. This ain't rocket science and I'm sure that the City, the Sierra Clubbers, the UTA and the other citizen groups who are involved, can work things out. If they only will. Until then, you can all be Jesus like, and that's to walk everywhere you want to go. Don't want to see any of the Sierra bunch driving a vehicle and filling the atmosphere with exhaust or punching a hole in the ozone layer.

blackrulon said...

There is a story in todays Deseret News(July 10) concerning the proposed hotel(page A10). Towards the end of the story Godfrey again claims "several retailers are considering the Junction for stores. One national-brand company is considering an outlet store, and an outlet retailer wants an outlet that would occupy most of the remaining space. Other smaller retailers are interested but would want to see the anchor-type store come in first, Godfrey said". Sound familar?

Dan S. said...

TTRT,

Ironically, I filled the atmosphere with exhaust this morning when I actually drove my car to the Farmer's Market. Bought more than I could haul home on the bike, which should be adequate next time.

Regarding the streetcar: Please explain your vision for re-doing 36th Street. Would you tear down the single-family homes and replace them with apartments and commercial buildings? No such plan has been publicly proposed by any of the folks who want the streetcar to go there. And surely you agree that it doesn't make sense to put a $100 million transit system on a street of single-family homes (not to mention the cemetery).

As for working out a compromise, a big part of the problem is that the Sierra Club and other citizen groups haven't even had a seat at the table during the process that began over a year ago. It's just elected officials who know they'll be out of office by the time the system is built, and bureaucrats who care only about keeping their jobs, plus the director of the Chamber of Commerce who doesn't exactly take a practical look at things.

TTRT said...

I agree with your take on the CC's Director Hardman....he does seem to just wander through things without taking much of a position, except that he supports the Mayor, regardless of the proposal.

Seems to me there are houses on ANY East/West street in town, and you'd face the same problems regardless of which street is selected to be the route. As for a $100 million system, THAT shouldn't go anywhere, so I don't think I'll waste the time researching it. It's just too damned expensive.

Which is really where I'm trying to go with this thing....use common sense, make your way into whatever meeting is going to be hled to discuss the route and method of public delivery, etc. Do something, anything, to move this thing along.

If we can put a space station in orbit hundreds of miles above the earth....we should be able to get some kind of vehicle from Washington to Harrison that would accomodate everyone's needs.

Like I said earlier, maybe you guys will have to force the issue. Telling your buddies and club members via the WCF ain't going to get 'er done. If you want to be involved then GET INVOLVED!

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