Sunday, November 28, 2010

Standard-Examiner: A Brief Summary of City and County Downtown Ogden Plots and Schemes

Added bonus: a snazzy interactive map of proposed future improvements of downtown Ogden

The Standard-Examiner carries two Ogden economic development stories this morning which are likely fodder for morning discussion.

First, there's this Scott Schwebke story, which briefly encapsulates all of the various pet projects which Boss Godfrey more or less has on the front burner, including Boss Godfrey's Grant Avenue-straddling "Field House/Wonder Dome":
What's next for Ogden?
As Dan S. noted last night, this story is "a bit of a disappointment: mostly a summary of what we already knew about a whole list of projects, with only tidbits of new information about each. Still, it's a useful summary for the vast majority of readers who don't keep careful track of such things." "Regarding the Wonder Dome, it says Godfrey is promising to solicit private donations, but no potential private donors are named. He claims WSU and Weber County "have expressed interest in partnering", but no attempt was made to contact spokespersons for either of these potential partners. There's no mention of the school districts."

Secondly, this morning's Standard also carries this Scott Schwebke companion piece, which reports that even our normally frugal Weber County Government is considering getting into the Big Spending downtown economic development act. Unlike the above-linked SE story however, this latter Scott Schwebke writeup does include much new detail about proposed funding for this project, a skywalk, new clubs, restaurants for the Berthana Building, etc.:
Weber County looking at Eccles Conference Center skywalk
And for those readers who'd like to see a visual representation of all the downtown plots and schemes our city and county governments have on the drawing board, here's something you're not going to want to miss: a snazzy Standard-Examiner interactive map of proposed future improvements for downtown Ogden, complete with a little trolley, zipping around Boss Godfrey's proposed Downtown Trolley Loop:
Flash Player interactive downtown Ogden map
Don't let the cat get your tongues, O Gentle Ones.

31 comments:

ND said...

And yet another "developer" that cannot be named.....

Soooo..Weber County's involvement in the Kiesel and Berthana is interesting...via the city? I find 14 million quite a little on the light side for a 150,000 SF building...including land? rots of ruck

althepal said...

With respect to this morning's SE stories, it becomes crystal clear that the SE greatly prefers the role of cheerleader, as opposed to whistleblower.

Sadly, this morning's stories are nothing more than puff pieces, written on a level worthy of a high school journalist.

Curmudgeon said...

STP:

With respect to the Conv Ctr story, I don't see how it adds up to cheer leading. It's straight reporting, and contains much information not generally known until the SE printed it. Includes estimated costs of the project and how Hizzonah hopes to have it all paid for [county funds, city funds, owners of the Berthana and Keisel buildings.]

Where's the cheer leading?

Curmudgeon said...

Rudi wrote:

"Secondly, this morning's Standard also carries this Scott Schwebke companion piece, which reports that even our normally frugal Weber County Government."

Would that be the same County government that ponied up money out of RAMP funds to help pay for Hizzonah's Year Round Outdoor Downtown Ice Climbing Popsicle fiasco? [It turned out in the end to be the only significant money anyone put up up front for the project, and had to be returned when Hizzoanh misused it.]

Would that be the same County government that ponied up six figures for Hizzonah's Toonverville Trolley-bus to circulate downtown in a three block by three block area for a year as a "study" designed to determine if a trolley was a feasible project?

Or are we defining "frugal" differently down at the Weber County Commission these days?

Really? said...

Where is everyone going to park? And why put the county taxpayers on the hook for another bond that will benefit the few? GOVERNMENT STOP GETTING INTO THE PRIVATE SECTOR! More taxes to be assessed by "small government & lower tax" republicans. Too bad county residents didn't show up to vote and/or kept in the same people that will continue this garbage. Ironic that the Dem candidates for Commission would never go for this and yet they lose. Weber County gets what it deserves.

Oldtimer said...

Back when I was a young lad, our frugal but oh-so-wise County Commissioners decided that what we needed to rescue downtown Ogden from decay was a Convention Center! To win the support of the artsy-fartsy folks they combined the project with the renovation of the Egyptian. And they even got Weber State to be a partner! One County Commissioner dared to suggest that before spending Taxpayer dollars on the project, the County oughta put it up for a vote by the Taxpayers. He was denounced by the Standard-Examiner as an obstructionist and "not a team player" and was defeated in the next election.

Now, of course, we know that the other two County Commissioners and the Standard-Examiner were right. The Convention Center saved downtown Ogden! The mall next door stopped declining and is now pumping dollars into Ogden's economy! Vacancy rates in Ogden's hotels and office buildings are practically zero! Thanks to all the tax revenue from downtown, Ogden now has the lowest tax rate in the whole State of Utah!

Googler said...

Ogden has highest property tax of any Utah city

Soon to Move. said...

Can anyone say eminent domain?

Why would anyone with a long term view of investing consider acquiring any existing property in Ogden if their investment is subject to eminent domain?

Until there is stability in the environment, Ogden will continue to stagnate except for city financed projects. Projects that usually only survive with local government subsidies and that are usually handed out only to the friends of the administration.

Good luck Ogden City taxpayers.

ISTHISTHERIGHTTIME said...

Not sure why or how the Dome of Dreams demands this much attention when so many people are out of work, the economy is still in the tank, housing continues to have issues and other "quality of life" challenges are upon us. Thank you to Amy Wicks for your forethought and firmness in your vote to veto the feasibility study.
I have an idea...........lets clean up the past indiscretions of former city councilman Blain Johnson and others before we tackle another potential white elephant with taxpayer funds. $38,000 pays for a lot of turkeys and provides a lot of Sub for Santas. (Add the "possible illegal campaign funds" taken by Blain and his cohorts and plenty of Ogdenites could enjoy a happy holiday season!)

Biker Babe said...

As Dan S. noted last night [said] … “There's no mention of the school districts."

I don’t know about any of the other school districts, but Ogden SD seems to be suffering from the blight of tax increment funding for other pie in the sky stuff, so exactly what would they be in a position to donate to the Super-Drome: child labor? And what other school districts would be interested, and for what reason: promises made but never kept? … leaving other school districts in the lurch like OSD … and everyone’s future in limbo.

Just sayin
BB

Dan S. said...

BB:

As soon as he took office, Godfrey began an effort to gain control over the Ogden School District. So he bought a house four doors down from the superintendent, and to flex his muscles, he helped defeat their next proposed bond levy. Now they do whatever he tells them to do. Just look at the letter that the Board president wrote in support of Godfrey's last campaign, or look at how they voluntarily cut their own tax revenues to support the Junction.

Never, never, never underestimate Godfrey's ability to get what he wants.

ozboy said...

Dan

Being the stickler you are for verification, I am going to trust that you have "proof" for your assertions pertaining to Godfrey's motives, intentions and methods vis-a-vis taking over the school district.

Dan S. said...

Oz:

Touche!

No, I can't prove motives or intentions. But I think the dots are close enough together that it's pretty natural to connect them.

jason w. said...

Hey: prayers and thoughts to the God of Karma for our great friend, THE GREAT BILL C. He's recuperating after nine hours of cancer surgery last Tuesday.

THE SKI IS BEAUTIFUL BLUE

Danny said...

Jason W!

Bill C!

Where ya been, bros!

I will pray to the God of Jacob for the "GBC"s recovery.

Meanwhile, note that the Irish government has agreed to pay around 6% for money that it will use to cover the gambling losses of its BANKS! They will raise taxes, and cut benefits, to pay for this!

But first, they agreed to loot their public pension funds to cover the bailout!

I hope I don't have to explain this. Understand who now runs the free countries. Understand what will happen here in the US.

And understand that Godfrey is not a leader, but a toady, to the real powers that be in this world.

Curmudgeon said...

Thank you, Jason, for the news about Bill. Hoping he's recovering comfortably and well. He's an original.

Dan S. said...

I talked to Bill's sister yesterday and she's optimistic about his prognosis. But he has additional treatment and a long recovery to get through first. Let's hope he can get online soon and say hello.

Moroni McConkie said...

Nice to hear SKI IS BEAUTIFUL BLUE again

Danny said...

Bill C is certainly the most important topic, secondly is that Jason is back.

but ... meanwhile, France has also seized pension assets.

France seizes pension assets

ogden eyes said...

And what about the small, newly remodeled building that sits in between the Kiesel & Berthana buildings? That doesn't seem to be mentioned or considered. It is a privately owned building and just remodeled this year looking for tenants. Crossroads of the West helped in funding of this remodeled building. Have they been contacted and are they in agreement to this plan? I hope they are not going to be getting the shaft in this big vision. They sit right between them.

I thought... said...

Crossroads of the West is run by John Patterson, isn't it?

ogden eyes said...

No! Crossroads of the West is not ran by John Patterson. He is on the twenty some person board, however. It is a board issuing out federally funded money to historic buildings in our community who apply for exterior repair in a matching grant. So far over a million dollars has been granted out to many buildings in the downtown area within the cbd or Crossroads of the West district.

I thought... said...

And when was the last time Patterson didn't get what he wanted from that committee?

Ogden Taxpayer said...

In the heat of the worst recession since 1933, Godfrey and the nitwit council plan to borrow and spend.

It's time to recruit a whole new slate of city council candidates, for sure.

ogden eyes said...

He is one voice and one vote out of a few dozen. He does not always get what he wants but what is best for the community via the committee. Do some research and you will see for yourself before making assumptions based on biases towards him. Minutes are available in the city planning office. The benefit is always the community through funds from federal grants towards buildings and projects to promote the cbd/crossroad district. Grantees and must apply and projects proposed then discussed and voted upon by the committee.

And btw, my original question did not get answered by this distraction. What about the building in the middle of the Kiesel and Berthana? Anybody know?

Really? said...

borrow spend is worse than tax and spend. at least with tax and spend you pay for it without the interest.

Curmudgeon said...

Og Taxpayer;

Ah... we just had an election. The tendency of the all-Republican Weber County Commission to pour money into Godfrey's fantasies [downtown outdoor year round ice climbing popsicle, etc.] was well know. Alternate candidates ran. They were buried at the polls.

Joyce Wilson said...

Dan S - I think you need to be truthful in your posting. You wrote, "As soon as he took office, Godfrey began an effort to gain control over the Ogden School District. So he bought a house four doors down from the superintendent, and to flex his muscles, he helped defeat their next proposed bond levy. Now they do whatever he tells them to do. Just look at the letter that the Board president wrote in support of Godfrey's last campaign, or look at how they voluntarily cut their own tax revenues to support the Junction."

First - 11 or so years ago when Godfrey ran for mayor our current superintendent worked for the Weber School District, so why would it matter that Godfrey bought a home four doors down from him?

Second - Yes Godfrey did work to defeat the school district's bond but we regrouped, developed a real plan and passed the next bond 2 to 1, without him.

Third - Now they do whatever he tells them to do. That is just completely wrong and unsubstantiated.

Fourth - A letter of support for his campaign - what? The letter from John Gullo and endorsed by Don Belnap, the school board president, was to clear up a misunderstanding regarding communications with Mayor Godfrey, it has absolutely nothing to do with supporting his campaign.

Fifth - if the Junction is not making money how did we cut our own revenue? At least we will receive mitigation payments (as will all other taxing entities), it's better than nothing. I personally was very critical of the Junction in its inception and how it was to be funded. I came to realize that if we the residents of Ogden did not truly care about investing in our own city why would anyone else. Now you may not agree with my opinion and that is your right, I don't always agree with your opinion. But I don't makeup facts to support my opinion and I recommend you refrain from doing the same.

Dan S. said...

Ms. Wilson: Thank you for weighing in on behalf of the School Board. Now let's see if we can sort out the facts.

1. If it's true that your current superintendent was hired after the mayor bought his current house, then I stand corrected. Thank you. However, I still doubt that the remarkable proximity of the mayor's and superintendent's homes is a mere accident. My revised guess is that Godfrey encouraged Zabriskie to apply for the position, and perhaps even lobbied the Board to hire him. Can you provide enough details on the hiring process to support or refute this guess?

2. No, you didn't pass the next bond without Godfrey. He endorsed it the second time around, and that endorsement played a significant role in its passage. If he had opposed it as he did the first time, there's a good chance it would have failed.

3. Actually I did substantiate my claim that the School Board does whatever Godfrey wants. It's your claim, "That is just completely wrong", that's unsubstantiated.

4. When someone writes a letter to the editor three weeks before a high-provile election, saying nothing but good things about a candidate and mentioning the election in the very first sentence, he'd better expect readers to interpret the letter as an endorsement. That's exactly what the letter was, no matter how many semantic games you want to play.

5. I'm disappointed that a School Board member like yourself apparently hasn't done the arithmetic to see how much money the District gave up when it voted to extend the tax increment for The Junction. The Junction's RDA district currently generates about $1 million in property tax per year, and we can expect this amount to increase to about $1.5 million once The Junction is complete. The School District's share of that revenue would be about $600,000. The Board voted to hand this revenue over to the RDA for an additional 12 years, in exchange for an annual mitigation payment of $300,000. Thus, the Board gave up a net $300,000 in annual revenue for 12 years, or a total of more than $3 million. (It's my understanding that the School District was also supposed to get some real estate out of this deal, but if that ever happened, I don't think it was reported. Perhaps you can fill us in.) Oh, and one more thing: It was reported that only three of the other taxing entities would be getting a share of those mitigation payments, not "all" of them as you claim.

ozboy said...

Joyce

You wrote: "if the Junction is not making money how did we cut our own revenue? At least we will receive mitigation payments (as will all other taxing entities), it's better than nothing"

I was under the impression that property taxes - and thus "revenue" - were based on assessed property value, not revenue. If that is the case, how would it be possible for the district to get "nothing"

Perhaps I am confused on how this works. If that is the case could you edumacate me?

Thanks

Dan S. said...

Oz, you're absolutely correct, of course: Property tax is based on assessed value of the property, whether or not anyone is making a profit off of it. I'm not making a profit off my house, but I still pay taxes on it.

The phrase "not making money", applied to The Junction, could have several possible meanings:

* Perhaps a particular business at The Junction, such as Gold's Gym or Deseret Books or one of the restaurants, is not bringing in enough revenue to cover its lease payments, payroll, and other expenses. But this would be of no direct concern to the taxpayers, as long as the lease payments get made. And for Deseret Books and the other tenants of privately owned buildings, it would be of no concern to the taxpayers regardless.

* Boyer Company, which has a long-term lease on the land for much of The Junction (Megaplex, restaurants, Wells Fargo building, smaller retail/apartment buildings) is not bringing in enough lease revenue to cover the payments on the loans that it took out to put up all those buildings. Thus, under Boyer's contract, the city's 50% share of Boyer's net profit amounts to zero. This is an indirect problem for Ogden taxpayers, because the city was counting on those lease revenues to help pay off its own bonds that covered the land purchase, demolition costs, etc.

* The city's total revenue on The Junction (including Salomon Center lease payments, tax increment on the whole area, and sales tax) is not enough to cover the payments on the various bonds. This is also a valid concern for Ogden City taxpayers, because it means the city is using general fund revenues to make the bond payments.

You would think that the School District and other taxing entities would have lessened this last problem by relinquishing their property tax for an additional 12 years. But in fact, they merely allowed the city to go further into debt, pledging most of that tax revenue toward the bonds for Garn's Hot Tub Hotel. (I find it ironic that the School District is voluntarily subsidizing the business ventures of a confessed child molester.)

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