OGDEN -- By a unanimous vote Tuesday night, the city council, functioning as the Ogden Redevelopment Agency board, rejected a lingering proposal from California developer Lee Homes to undertake the long-awaited Ogden River Project.
Meanwhile, Steve Peterson, managing partner of Millrock Development LLC, based in Holladay, said his company has a letter of understanding from Gadi Leshem -- whose firm, Ogden Riverfront Development, is the main owner of river project property -- to take Lee's place.
"I've spent six months on it (working on the agreement)," Peterson said Tuesday, adding he believes the 60-acre, mixed-used project will be successful.
The Ogden River Project has been on the drawing board since 2002 and encompasses land straddling the river from 18th to 20th streets and Washington Boulevard to Wall Avenue.
In June 2010, Jeff Lee, president of Lee Homes, based in Marina del Rey, Calif., submitted an owner participation agreement to the RDA.
The aim of the agreement, which has never been signed by the RDA, was to help Lee obtain funding for the river project, said Jonny Ballard, the city's community development manager.
Ballard recommended Tuesday night that the RDA reject the agreement.
There are questions of whether Lee properly created the legal entity Riverwalk LLC to undertake the project, Ballard said.
Other questions involve whether Lee and Riverwalk own and control properties in the project area or have obtained financing, Ballard said.
Lee and Leshem could not be reached Tuesday for comment. Lee has said his company became aware of the river project because his father, Harlan Lee, is a close friend of Leshem.
When finished, the project would have contained 315,000 square feet of commercial space and 916 residential units that could house about 1,900 residents, according to a conceptual master plan submitted by Lee to the city last year. Residential dwellings would have included single-family homes, row houses, condominiums and town houses.
Millrock hopes to become the major partner in the river project, while Leshem and his investors would take a more passive role, Peterson said. In addition, Millrock would invest capital into the development, he added.
Millrock has completed several projects, including Millrock Park, which includes four buildings in Holladay containing 490,000 square feet of class A office space. Peterson is not related to developer Chris Peterson, owner of Malan's Basin.
This topic is being discussed at the Weber County Forum.