Friday, December 17, 2010

A Magical Unveiling of the Mystery Dome

Mayor, CAO, and architect proudly present new sketches.

By Dan Schroeder

The atmosphere was cold but festive at the downtown Ogden Amphitheater last night, with families coming to see the Christmas Village while children’s choirs sang on the stage.

And, as promised, the Field House “open house” piggybacked on the festivities with foam board displays on either side of the amphitheater entrance.


There were four displays in all, each guarded by a high-ranking city official (mayor, chief administrative officer, public works director...). But the displays were mostly redundant, each dominated by the same pair of fresh architectural sketches of the Wonder Dome’s upper and lower levels.



To the side of each set of these large illustrations was a separate board listing the amenities for a prospective user group: “Athletes”, “School kids”, “Families”, and “Senior’s” [sic].


There were also two tables full of iced Christmas cookies, inexplicably failing to attract much attention.

Attendance was dominated by a handful of true believers and a smaller handful of skeptics. City Council members Gochnour and Garner were there, rubbing elbows with administration members and constituents alike.

I made no attempt to interrogate the mayor, but I did ask quite a few questions of the architect, Dan Van Zeben. He explained that the sketches are oriented with north upward, so 24th Street would go across the top and Grant Avenue (to be vacated) would go right up the middle. The east side of the Wonder Dome would wrap around the Berthana Building, while the west side would displace the vacant building on the southwest corner of 24th and Grant as well as some land belonging to the Marriott Hotel.

According to Mr. Van Zeben, parking for the Wonder Dome could be provided by adding more levels to the existing parking structure to the east, and building a new parking structure on the city’s parking lot behind the Marriott.

I asked Mr. Van Zeben if he had made any cost estimates for the Wonder Dome and he said yes, his current ballpark estimate of the construction cost is $28 million. This includes demolition of existing buildings but not land acquisition or parking. Council member Gochnour said she had heard a somewhat higher cost estimate, but it wasn’t clear whether that estimate might have included some items that Van Zeben was omitting.

Mr. Van Zeben also confirmed that he has received no compensation for his services related to the Wonder Dome over the last three years. I asked whether he has other contracts with the city and he said not at the moment, although he did do some work related to the renovations on the east side of Washington Blvd. Then he mentioned that he has recently been hired as the architect for the Kevin Garn Hot Tub Hotel. Although his client is Western States Lodging, he is hoping to be hired by the city as well to design the parking portion of the building. He is unsure whether the city will have to go through a competitive bidding process to hire its architect.

There was no mention of any results from the $38,000 study of the Wonder Dome proposal that the council agreed to pay for last month.

Update 12/17/10 5:30 a.m.: The Standard-Examiner carries its own morning story too:
Ogden field house plan reviewed
Update 12/17/10 7:40 a.m.: Here is a very rough overlay of the Wonder Dome footprint on an aerial photograph of downtown Ogden. It appears that the building's eastern wing would reach all the way to Kiesel Avenue. The city would have to acquire property whose total assessed value is about $1.8 million, from five different owners (Pingree, Alvey, Cutrubus, Century Investments, and H & P Investments):

44 comments:

Dan S. said...

Wow--there's almost no overlap between my article and the Standard-Examiner's, which is vague on the location and fails to quote a cost figure, but adds these details:

* The city's request to RAMP in January will be for $5 million (up from $3 million last year and $2 million the year before).

* The city is contemplating yet another legally questionable financial shell game, which would divert funds from some undisclosed fund to the Wonder Dome. A legal opinion on this diversion is being sought, and the city hints that it may be lobbying the legislature to change the applicable law.

* The consultant's report on this project is now expected "by the end of December".

* The pens for the comment forms froze. (You can see two of the comment tables in my first photo. I don't recall seeing anybody writing comments during the hour I was there.)

ND said...

you can bet that Froerer and Cutrubus are not going to let thier properties go for assessed value.

Just where oh where is this parking structure going to fit on City property behind the Marriott? The City does not own all of that property...and that that is does is fairly narrow...unless its totally underground, you can kiss any charm the backside of 25th street has.

Dan S. said...

There was a time when sports had seasons. You played football in the fall, hockey in the winter, and baseball in the summer. You swam in the summer and skied in the winter.

But no more. Now athletes seem to think they're entitled to play any sport they want, any time of year. And who pays to accommodate this ridiculous desire? Why the taxpayers, of course, most of whom are content to accept the seasons as they come and recreate in seasonally appropriate ways.

What's next? Summertime refrigerated ice climbing?

Sheesh.

Dan S. said...

To explain a portion of ND's comment: Gage Froerer is the registered agent of Century Investments Partnership LLC, which owns the light-roofed buildings in the middle of the Wonder Dome footprint, just south of the city's vacant lot on the SE corner of 24th and Grant.

I wonder if Mr. Froerer will be sponsoring the legislation to enable the city's diversion of hitherto-restricted funds to this project?

Adrian said...

I found your blog from the standard.net comment board in regards to this story. Thanks for taking the time to take pictures. I wanted to show my wife the concept but my phone's battery was too low.

I spent my time at the presentation asking Mayor Godfrey questions between the time he was interrupted by the "professionals" who are excited to have whatever it is we are getting.

I like the idea of having something downtown to recreate with my family as most other communities have built something in the last few years (Roy, Clearfield, South Davis). My concern is the cost. Mayor Godfrey talked about the partnership with Weber State and the school districts and naming rights and RAMP. I explained to him the Junction activities (Flowrider, iFly, etc)is too expensive for my family as well as the majority of Ogden residents to use regularly. Mayor Godfrey said because they are applying for RAMP money there will be a few free days a year.....which means 10,000 people using the facility because they can't afford it any other times. Mayor Godfrey said it will be priced like the newer complexes built in Utah.

I asked the mayor about a fitness area and he said he won't compete with Gold's (which is a private business). Essentially the mayor wants this to be for the "elite" residents of Ogden.

Without a fitness area, I am not inclined to use the facility regularly as it becomes cost prohibitive. Example: if the yearly pass cost is $450 (as it is at the new South Davis Recreation Complex) I will be spending $37.50 per month plus two Gold's Gym memberships of at least $20 each. It is realistic to believe the families in Ogden who want to exercise and visit the new field house will spend $77.50 MONTHLY ($930 Yearly) because I don't believe it is.

Is the proposed site also the best use of taxpayer money? I understand the desire to have all of these things downtown but it seems there are plenty of sites in the city which could house a facility of this size (or bigger) for less money.

I want to like this idea but I just feel like it is missing what the residents truly want. A velodrome sounds cool.....but is there enough Ogden residents to use it? If we want to be the recreation destination I am fine with that.......but not at taxpayer expense.

I can't believe said...

I just about fell over when I realized what is actually proposed. I could never imagine that the mayor would even consider this? Does the mayor and his admin lack total common sense and insight? And with our money?? Come on people? Let's not forget costs for relocation underground utilities that run below the street. That can be HUGE! I work in Creston plaza which is at the corner of 25th & Grant. Quite often I consider moving out due to parking for myself and clients. Clients complain every time they walk through the door. So now we are going to have a bike track water park butted up to the building? Brilliant! The parking lot serves not only the plaza, but all the businesses along that block of 25th, the marriot hotel, and the federal building employees.
So the mayor's idea will tear down the finance building at the corner of 26th and grant, all the businesses along grant up to the federal building, and some along keisel?. He may as well level Creston while he's at it! I know both Kier and Froerer representatives that have been in charge of this building and both #1 issue keeping tenants was PARKING!!! God damn I'm so f'n pissed off!!!

It's a great country when a special needs kid can become mayor and do with tax payer money how he sees "fit"! Is it a church thing that I don't get? Someone clue me in please... I really want to understand how this has gotten so over the top out of control.

I can't believe said...

Ooops... I meant the finance building at the corner of 24th & Grant!! Sorry.

ND said...

Interestingly enough were the statements that were made that the utilities on Grant could go under the building....better double check with Rocky Mountain Power and Questar on that....and be ready to move mountains to get them to allow that to take place...the city could make exceptions to thier infrastructure, but don't count on RMP or Questar....and there sits acres and acres of raw land over a the River....sigh....

Bee in my Bonnet said...

Doesn't anybody think maybe the space occupied by the old Dead Long-Empty Fred Meyer building might come to mind when thinking of building something big?

it's a win-win no-brainer -- at least for the location part ...

Dan S. said...

I agree that if something like this is going to be built, there are better sites farther north.

The rationale for shoehorning it into the middle of downtown is apparently to put it near the hotels. This facility isn't for Ogden residents; it's intended to attract regional and national events and thus fill hotel rooms. And of course, parents staying at the hotels can send their kiddies to play at the water park.

Adrian said...

I don't think the Mayor and City Council will consider anywhere which is not "downtown." Why not consider the site of the old Wheelwright Lumber and RiteAid/IGA building (24th-25th Monroe to Quincy). Seems like you could build something pretty big there which could easily serve the school district, Weber State, the citizens of Ogden (I know what a thought), and have it on a major bus route.

Dan S. said...

24th and Quincy is a lousy idea--the scale of the structure would be completely out of proportion in that mostly residential neighborhood. But I don't see why it couldn't be put on the city-owned vacant land at 20th and Washington. (Well, the city would have to buy back the parcel it sold to America First.) That's reasonably close to the hotels and there's probably enough land for surface parking. Sites to the west of there might also be possible, though I wouldn't want to see it right up against the river.

Even if a suitable site could be found, however, it wouldn't answer the obvious questions of how to pay for the thing--both initial construction and ongoing operations. Citizens, guard your wallets!

ND said...

or the school district property at 25th and Adams???

Site location aside...this really comes down to "show me the money"...or show me the borrowed money....period.

Adrian said...

I'd be the first to agree 24th and Quincy is not ideal for this structure; however, the City has shown to the neighborhood in the area they don't care what happens and it would be better than what is currently there.

Anywhere they put it (because it's going to be built) will result in the a building for tourists, not the residents.

Did anyone notice they put the tennis courts above the swimming areas? Seems like the chlorine wil cause problems to the tennis players, or the tennis players will cause a loud experience for the swimmers. Also, in speaking with the mayor the area designated for basketball will take 1/2 a day to change from soccer to basketball and vice versa. Seems like alot of labor when the basektball could just be built separately.

ogden eyes said...

This is insanity. For several reasons, some bigger then the others. As mentioned mostly here... the money, cost, debt. Second, the inappropriateness of having it in the middle of downtown like a huge elephant sitting in the center like the Ogden mall. And taking of Grant Avenue, a main road going through the city. Omg. But also the taking of some of Ogden's significant historic buildings including the Browning Building. An original building used by John Browning who is probably the most significant historic figure in Ogden. I hope Landmarks Commission fights this idea for preservation. And I wont even mention the parking and congestion as so many others here have already, that it will bring. Yes, the quaintness of our historic district and downtown district will be gone forever again. Do we need it... that is another topic. Maybe, maybe not. That is a big discussion and for the price tag. I like the 20th/Washington idea, Fred Meyers lot idea, west of town on wall somewhere like it was discussed originally. Definitely not in our avenues amidst residential homes in our "quaint" east side. I oppose this and wonder why it is all of a sudden so important to the administration and has not even begun to be planned properly. Just like the gondola, another dog and pony show with no reality. I SAY NO!!! Leave downtown for smaller projects utilizing the buildings we have and filling in vacant properties...and save the last of our historic buildings.

old guy said...

Well guys, it's business as usual. Good old Matt gets the ball rolling with a meager description of his vision and in time, fleshes out the deal with everything he and the guys can come up with in the way of dumb add-ons.

Typical Godfrey it seems to me. Once things get moving, i.e., Council approval, etc., the rush is on to keep things moving so that any hanging questions such as feasibility, funding sources and other mundane topics won't rear their ugly heads and dampen the stampede.

Better plan on another king-sized jar of vasaline you naysaying taxpayers - this one should be a real buttbuster and somthing to reflect on along with coming up with the cash for those Xmas bills. Happy Easter.

googleguy said...

Historic Browning Building, home of Out of Bounds Creative

RudiZink said...

"I found your blog from the standard.net comment board in regards to this story."

Welcome to Weber County Forum, Adrian. I hope you'll bookmark this place, regularly check back in and continue to participate in our citizen discussions, just as you've done so today.

Dan S. said...

Correction: H & P Investments is a DBA for Homer Cutrubus, so there are really only four different property owners to negotiate with.

Curmudgeon said...

Did you notice the Wonder Dome has gotten yet a third name. Look at the architect's drawing Dan posted and you'll see that the former Velodrome and former Field House has now become the Recreation Center.

I wonder what it will be next week....

Adrian's points are good ones, I think. And it does seem the project is largely designed to boost the Marriott, Convention Center hotel and the new Hilton, mostly, rather than benefit the generality of Ogden. A $450 annual membership plus a few free days a year to appease RAMP? Wow. I think that makes it pretty clear who are expected to be the main beneficiaries of all this. And it is not the common folk of Ogden City.

Godfrey Sucks said...

Don't kid yourself, Curm!

The Downtown Wonder Dome has been designed to feed Mormons from Ogden's new "Special Mormon Marriage Temple" to downtown sites which will be attractive to Mormon wedding parties who'll soon presumably be visiting our town in droves.

If you don't believe this, look at Boss Godfrey's downtown plan, which is built around the the Ogden Temple, and even has a little downtown trolley whizzing between the temple, the "Hot Tub Hotel", and other downtown Mormon "attractions".

I am NOT making this up:

Boss Godrey's LDS-centered Ogden Plan

Makes me want to puke, frankly.

Dan S. said...

GS,

I'll refrain from commenting on your hypothesis. However, thanks for pointing back to that graphic, which interestingly shows the Wonder Dome at barely over half its actual size.

ozboy said...

Mr. Curmudgeon

How about still another name - "The Big Tub".

When I first looked at the drawings I thought it might be a detail over head view of part of a bathroom! The big white oval in the drawing looks like a bathtub!

And Dan, if you think this idea is off the charts, just wait till Da Mayor discloses his plans for the massive indoor ski slope - ala Japan style. Pretty soon folks won't even have to bother with going to Snow Basin - or Chris Peterson's alpine delight in Malan's basin - they will just tuck in any time day or night or summer or winter - and get a few runs in between biz meetings at the Hot Tub Hotel.

RudiZink said...

Sorry Ozboy... Indoor sking has already been done before, although I'll confess that I'm surprized that something like this hasn't been proposed by BOSS Godfrey for the GREAT INDOOR DOWNTOWN MAGICAL WONDER DOME:

Missed Opportunity at The Junction

Sadly, Boss Godfrey keeps missing the boat!

Curmudgeon said...

Dan S:

Nice catch on the SE map showing a much much smaller footprint for the Wonder Dome than the toddlers were shown last night at the Amphitheater. Clearly, the SE got fed some bad information. Again. Wonder when they'll get tired of it? I do.

ND said...

Hopefully the guy designing the pool area isn't the same ones that didte Flowrider.....those darn things have some humidity! Oh...and also heard at the pow wow that the pool is a good thing for the velodrome as humidity from the pool can be used for the veledrome as it needs humidity...and wasnt quite clear on it butI believe it will help the "green" roofs that could be used....so there you go..

Ernie the Attorney said...

Good point, ND. Indoor water features are an engineering/construction nightmare. Without absolutely rigorous water sealing, moisture can migrate throughout an entire indoor facility, spreading all but impossible to eradicate toxic fungus throughout.

ND said...

I guess the connecting lobby over the service entrance it via the Berthana?...love the stairs on the corner of 24th and Grant...quite inviting...
Just were are all these tennis players coming from? Thats alot of tennis courts...didnt know tennis was such a big sport in Otown...is that why some of the courts in the parks have been removed? Nice views from the water park to the Federal Building and Parking structure...usually these things have an outdor element to them for the summer...and te ability to open to the outdoors...If I am taking the kiddies to a waterpark it wont be here....North Ogden seems more fun.

ND said...

Off the SE Website...

Jonathan Wright, owner of Brixton Baked Potato, 2386 Kiesel Ave., came away from the presentation impressed with the plan.

"I love it," he said. "I think it's a great idea to bring people downtown and get them to stay longer while they're here. The field house would have broad appeal and niche appeal. I think it would be good for the economy and good for everybody."


Of course he does...seeing as they were the ones that got City monies for winning a contest for a new business (10k)....now we taxpayers have to supply them with customers....

just a thought said...

just a thought..I dont know of too many developers that will show what they have in mind to do with other someones elses property..as the price will always increase for said property...makes one think on this one eh? As long as you are spending 28 mil plus, why not just tunnel under the dome and let Grant Ave stay open...whats another few million?

Dan S. said...

just a thought,

I'm sure the mayor would have preferred to keep the location a secret. But he's absolutely determined to get his hands on this year's RAMP money, and their application deadline is January 15. After failing with RAMP twice already, he knows that he needs a more concrete proposal this time and he also feels he must win public support for it, to put pressure on the RAMP committee. So his own impatience has forced him to show his cards earlier than he would have liked to, I think.

ND said...

so "dozens" of people last night constitute support for this?....

Spending more than the Public Safety Building or Municipal Building...something actually needed....this is nuts...the water features and tennis courts are nothing more than subsidizing hotel amenities...

still laughin' said...

"Brixton's Potatos"?

I though you were joking until I looked it up:

Brixton's Baked Potatato

Gourmet Potatos? Malinvestment per se (Mutatis mutandis)?

I'll have to admit that's the funniest business concept I've read about all day.

Ozboy said...

Speaking of Street cars and other gummint boondoggles, there is an interesting article on CNN about Street Cars as great boons to rebuilding old cities - or not.

See it here:

Can streetcars save America's cities?

Fireman Joe said...

While he's planning the Wonderdome he's also telling us that we have to leave our unfilled positions open until spring because sales tax revenues are down.

SE reader said...

Quote of the day from Andy Howell: "Our job is not to sugarcoat situations, it is to report reality."

DOCTOR OPPOSITE said...

Hmmm... From 1938 - The original salute to the US flag taught to school children.

Viktor said...

SE Reader

Andy does sometimes seem like he is writing for Alice in Wonderland where up is down and black is white! He is either writing from his own perverse sense of reality, or he is a lyin sack-O-crap. My guess is both.

If the Standard had been a moral and upstanding news paper they would not have co-conspired with Godfrey these past few years in running up a hundred million in public debt for nothing more than a few piles of ill conceived crap around town.

The Standard, The Suits of Sandusky, Schwebke and Howell are all total and complete embarrassments to the fine history of newspapers.

You Kinow Who said...

Thanks for publishing Weber County Forum, Rudi. I just sent ya's a $100 Christmas donation via PayPal!

Curmudgeon said...

SE Reader:

That was an interesting column this morning. The SE as a Coen Brothers movie. Now there's an idea to occupy an idle hour at the coffee shoppe.

Godfrey napoleon complex said...

Stupidest Idea Ever! Where are the studies showing this is (1) needed; and (2) will do any good in bolstering downtown?

Elite said...

Hey, I would use the water park, but only if it is expensive enough to keep out the riff-raff and Mexicans, they can play somewhere else.
The velodrome is funny, in that by the time it pays for itself with user fees, the structure will be outdated and need to be torn down. We keep building crap that is only designed to last 25 years.
You want to grow Ogden, make Ogden the best academic small city in the nation. Take care of the kids, and businesses will relocate here to take advantage of our educated work force, and all of the rest of the shiny day-glow baubles and amusements will arrive, right on time, and not at taxpayer expense.

Hard time to be a fiscal conservative in Utah.

Curmudgeon said...

Elite:

You wrote: "You want to grow Ogden, make Ogden the best academic small city in the nation. Take care of the kids, and businesses will relocate here to take advantage of our educated work force."


Yup. It can work that way. I lived in a place where an expanding high tech firm was all but signed to move in when the owner told the city he wasn't coming, and he told them why. "The schools. My skill people won't move there because of the schools. And without them I don't have a company." I saw the letter he wrote.

So yes, the state of the public schools in a community directly affects the state of the local economy in many many ways.

disappointed in the council said...

This up coming study will most likely be used to determine where the consultant will speculate what the price point of the cost of admission would need to be to make the project viable. Nothing more and most likely pure speculation on the part of the consultant with the sole purpose of the study being to convince the city council to buy in. Unfortunately it will probably work with the nit wits that we currently have on the council.

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