THE RIVERSTONE EXPERIMENT: Developer's resolve, urban renewal's effectiveness under public microscope (reprinted from Nov. 2011) - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

THE RIVERSTONE EXPERIMENT: Developer's resolve, urban renewal's effectiveness under public microscope (reprinted from Nov. 2011)

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Posted: Wednesday, September 23, 2015 12:15 am

The gateway to Coeur d’Alene for the masses flowing in on Northwest Boulevard from Interstate 90 gives little hint that a gorgeous lake and thriving downtown are 60 seconds away.

On the right is a blend of purported modernity: multi-storied condominiums resting on retail shops hulking in the background, framing a cold concrete parking garage, top level barren. There’s the windowless massive rear end of Regal Cinemas and retail space spreading north, buildings as blunt and bland from the back as they are warm and welcoming from the front. The theater’s sprawling roof, where air conditioning units crouch like abandoned cars on a forgotten tarmac, caps the visual splash until the Inland Northwest’s largest metal feather beckons from an approaching median.

This might not be the welcome to the City by the Lake envisioned by chamber of commerce types, but it is the entryway to Exhibit 1 in the community’s controversial public-private urban renewal partnership, a live/work/play neighborhood evolved from an old mill site and 100 foot deep gravel pit. Over the past decade, it has stalled, flourished, staggered, and is showing signs of life again.

This is the road to Riverstone.

•••

John Stone has agreed, somewhat reluctantly, to be interviewed by North Idaho Business Journal at 11 a.m. on 11/11/11. He shows up at Starbucks, right on time, a Riverstone promotional packet in hand and a countenance on his serious face as gray as the November skies. It is the look of a man who devoted much of his time and more of his treasure to create and then shape this project over a dozen years, yet as he walks through the front door of the coffee shop he looks anything but triumphant.

As reported in The Press in late October, Stone has just deeded back to a Seattle-based lender three buildings that form part of the village’s heart: the movie theaters and two adjacent, multi-tenant retail buildings. He got kicked in the financial teeth when Barnes & Noble went into what was called “capital preservation mode” and “pulled out at the 11th hour,” Stone said, leaving the developer embarrassed, angry and in full possession of the empty B&N building that he had sunk an additional $1 million into just for that specific client.

All told, Stone has suffered much more than that.

“We probably lost $15 million,” Stone said of his Riverstone investment. “It hasn’t been fun. That’s the risk you take in the development business.”

Stone admitted reluctance to being interviewed, saying he was concerned a “witch hunt” might be lurking in a hidden agenda somewhere. And later on that Veterans Day, as Stone drove a reporter and photographer toward what someday could become a sports complex on the northwest edge of Riverstone II, he imparted a little payback for criticism that has come his way from editorial writers and urban renewal critics.

“If I hear ‘wealthy developers are lining their pockets’ ever again, it’ll be too soon,” he said.

For this developer, the support he has gotten from Coeur d’Alene’s urban renewal agency, Lake City Development Corp., was critical to proceed but has done little to mitigate that $15 million loss. According to Tony Berns, LCDC’s director and lone employee, Stone has been reimbursed just under $1.5 million over the past decade. He is due $30,677 more before reimbursement from LCDC for the orginal Riverstone development concludes.

And reimbursement is the key word, Berns said.

“We don’t just hand out cash up front,” he said. “John Stone paid for that [traffic lights and other infrastructure on Northwest Boulevard for access to Riverstone] out of his own pocket.”

Stone pointed out that even full urban renewal reimbursement on the original Riverstone doesn’t fall into his profit column because it paid for improvements along Northwest Boulevard that he doesn’t own.

“There is not one penny of urban renewal money that’s in our pocket,” he said. “It’s all owned by the public in infrastructure.”

“It’s his risk; the burden’s on him,” Berns said of Stone’s venture with LCDC. “If it works, he gets paid back from the parcels within that improvement. If it doesn’t. . . .”

•••

Stone said that when he walked the 76 acres of the original site more than a dozen years ago, it was the graveyard of a sawmill littered with industry mementos that included buried sawblades and other “unsuitable materials.” In a wistful moment, Stone wields the fact as a counter to some of his critics.

“They have no memory of what this was,” he says.

But Stone sure does. In 1998 he had a video made and distributed to 30 or 40 people in the community, including Coeur d’Alene Mayor Steve Judy and Avista’s Paul Anderson. Stone showed them what the site was — and told them what it could be, including a lake for the public and many other pluses.

“When we did our first conceptual renderings. . . I’ve been amazed at how close we came to that,” he said. “It’s really happened. I’m pleased that we’ve done everything we said we’d do.”

He paused and then added, “It hasn’t been successful economically but that’s part of life.”

Stone labored for two years to finalize the development’s plans and forge the necessary agreements. And just as momentum was beginning to build — bringing with it a burst of bricks and mortar for Riverstone — terrorists brought down twin New York financial landmarks and with them, the nation’s economy.

“Nine-eleven hit us and that stalled everything for another year,” Stone said. “You can’t control that.”

Riverstone began to rise with its first tenant, First American Title. Nationally and locally, the economy picked up speed, reaching unprecedented pinnacles. In 2004, Stone’s company acquired the old quarry on 77 acres just west of the original Riverstone and, over the next three years, moved 2.5 million cubic yards of material to prepare the quarry site for a lake, a park and more. In April of that year, construction began on the 14-screen Regal Cinemas theater. Four years later, the 25-acre Village at Riverstone was complete, but the good times that had taken so long to build ended in a hurry.

“This economic earthquake hit us in 2008 and you can’t control that, either,” Stone said.

Also beyond his control was Barnes & Noble’s last-minute decision not to provide the retail anchor that formed much of the development’s foundation for financial growth. When B&N exercised a clause in its contract and backed out, Stone said, the ripple effect was devastating. Seven other national franchises retreated from their earlier commitments, Stone said, and existing Riverstone retailers that had been contractually assured the giant was coming to the village were given steep discounts in their leases — again, triggered by the bookseller’s bailout.

That created a quarry Stone hasn’t been able to fill.

“If the economy would do a magical turnaround, then we’d be back in the game again,” he said. “But that’s highly unlikely to happen.”

•••

Coeur d’Alene City Council member Deanna Goodlander believes Riverstone is a boon to the community, and that it most definitely would not have happened without John Stone’s hard work and the encouragement from urban renewal.

“John has said that if it weren’t for urban renewal, he’d never take that risk,” she said.

As a council appointee to the LCDC board of directors, Goodlander sees first-hand how urban renewal can impact a community.

“When you take a brownfield like John did and turn it into something positive — the same holds true for Mill River, too — everybody benefits,” she said.

Berns, who took LCDC’s helm in December 2001, said that after the initial agreement with Stone on the original Riverstone, the urban renewal agency executed a promissory note with Stone for Riverstone West Phase I on June 21, 2007. That phase includes property west of the Red Robin restaurant. The agreement called for Stone to spend $6,682,237 of his own money on infrastructure, with half of it dedicated to the park and pond that have become the development’s public centerpiece. Stone then deeded that property to the city.

Almost four and a half years later, Stone’s risk still has not paid off. According to LCDC financial records, the principal on the promissory note remains $6,682,237. Only interest on the note has been paid.

While Stone hasn’t begun to be paid back, his investment has reaped dividends for the city, Berns said.

“The first thing that jumped out at us was the park and pond,” he said.

Hundreds of jobs were generated as well, and the city’s residential options grew. Berns recalled that there were even plans for condominium towers at Riverstone.

“People were dreaming big,” he said, “but what really encouraged us was creation of the public space.”

Like Stone, Berns compares what was to what is.

“I think people forget what it looked like,” Berns said. “That was a brownfield for the community, which he reclaimed.”

Berns also emphasized that urban renewal support leads to reimbursing developers like Stone only if the property being developed becomes viable. The mechanism of tax increment financing works like this:   If the original Riverstone property generated $100,000 in annual property taxes before Stone developed it and $500,000 in annual property taxes after he developed it, that $400,000 difference — the tax increment — would be divided as follows:

• 72 percent would be applied to Stone’s reimbursement agreement with LCDC

• 3 percent would be transferred to the city’s Art Commission to spend on public art in the Lake District

• The remaining 25 percent would be used by LCDC on other projects within the district.

And if the property never generates property taxes beyond that initial $100,000 annually, Stone would never get repaid for the public improvements he installed.

“The taxpayers are not on the hook,” Berns reiterated. He explained that when an urban renewal district closes, as the district encompassing Riverstone West will in 2027, whatever balance remains to reimburse Stone would go unpaid. Instead, all the tax increment will go back to the other taxing entities within the district from that time on.

Berns is convinced that Riverstone is a model of a good public-private partnership, providing public space and valuable amenities.

“A successful Riverstone means more jobs, more places to live,” he said. “At one time Riverstone was going to be only high-end apartments.” Now, Berns notes, construction for low-income apartments on the far west end of Riverstone is almost complete, and most of the original condos sold for modest prices.

He also pointed out that because the original Riverstone is generating positive dollars, the additional funding can be deployed elsewhere in that specific urban renewal district. That’s how Midtown improvements were made, he said, and more downtown improvements are coming.

Goodlander is keeping her eye on the bigger picture. She shares the story of interconnectivity that came from her cardiac physician, who works for the network of heart specialists now being brought into the Kootenai Health family. According to Goodlander, her doctor from Heart Clinics Northwest asked if the Riverstone condos were joined by pedestrian and bike trail with the education corridor just south of the development and on into downtown. And the answer was “yes.”

“She said she’d be interested in one of the Riverstone condos because she’d love to ride her bicycle on that trail,” Goodlander said.

Goodlander said Stone’s role is basically transparent as far as taxpayers are concerned.

“It doesn’t matter who owns it,” she said. “It’s there, and whoever owns it will be paying taxes.”

Asked if she believes Riverstone has been a rousing success, she answered thoughtfully, “I don’t think it’s there yet but I think it will.”

And she remains firmly in Stone’s corner.

“Are we lucky we got a John Stone? You bet,” she said, “because he made that development happen.”

•••

John Stone is on a new mission these days and it has nothing to do with rebuilding a fortune.

“I’m working to pay down debt,” he said.

That effort is emphasized by jackhammers and clamboring construction workers busily working on several of the five projects launched in Riverstone this year, projects that Stone estimates have generated 300 construction jobs while paving the way for numerous other permanent jobs in those buildings.

Right next to Bardenay, the restaurant on the lake, construction on a dermatology business is in advanced stages. Across the road heading northwest, a new center for the FBI is going up. Stone’s own offices and expanded space for an existing high-tech tenant, Pacinian, are also taking shape, and there’s more of that in store. Several parcels have been purchased this year and contracts are pending with a couple others, Stone said.

Meantime, his eye is fixed on that one prize.

“It takes awhile for the tax increment from these new businesses to pay off that debt,” he said. “We have to pay off the loan regardless. We took the risk that this had to be paid off in a certain amount of time.

“There are close to 500 units here now that weren’t here 10 years ago. Taxes are always there. They’re down now because real estate across the board has dropped 40 percent, but we still pay our taxes and the increments continue to build. It’s a funny game.”

Not that Stone is laughing.

“It’s been a rough ride but we’re real pleased with what we’ve been able to accomplish,” he said. “This will be the place to shop in the North Idaho Panhandle. This village will be healthy at some point when the economy picks up.”

***

This story was originally published in November 2011 in North Idaho Business Journal and on cdapress.com.

  • Discuss

Welcome to the discussion.

27 comments:

  • petand posted at 7:44 pm on Thu, Sep 24, 2015.

    petand Posts: 355

    What a whiner. Nobody's trying to destroy downtown. There are lots of shops and restaurants that draw me downtown. Maybe you're just upset that not many people are spending money on over priced jewelry.

     
  • carol posted at 1:57 pm on Wed, Sep 23, 2015.

    carol Posts: 637

    Good thing you can use as a write off every year are your operating/business losses. Otherwise Stone would have to pay more to IRS. Thank goodness for loopholes!

     
  • Why Not posted at 11:08 am on Wed, Sep 23, 2015.

    Why Not Posts: 5265

    Great article about a complex matter. Time will tell how it all pans out, but if recent activities are any indication, it is already a winner. RS is a unique development that created a new urban core at a time when Coeur d' Alene was quickly moving north up 95. It has returned jobs, shopping and entertainment close to downtown and it has provided new housing opportunities for citizens. Seventeen years ago downtown was dying and the hardly anyone hung around past Labor Day. That's changed and allot of the reason is the URDs.

    Some folks are never going to be satisfied with government-private partnerships, but the fact is they work. Whether they were Main Street programs like Orlando or URD projects like RS, they help to bring people back to the urban core. Fact is, there are some people who hate anything about the government doing the people's work. The state legislature is a good example, it and the governor can't figure out why their endless tax breaks don't work, so maybe they should be considering why Urban Renewal do.

     
  • arius1 posted at 9:43 am on Wed, Sep 23, 2015.

    arius1 Posts: 957

    I agree with toycannon. I personally like Riverstone as well. It is by far, better looking than what was there before. It has way more appeal than any other area of town.

    The articles descriptive flow of words seemed more like a hit piece from someone who obviously does not like the place. To each their own I guess.

    Not a fan of LCDC or self serving Tony Berns, or URD;'s for that matter. I'm all for capitalism, just not at the expense of taxation without representation.

     
  • toycannon posted at 9:28 am on Wed, Sep 23, 2015.

    toycannon Posts: 330

    I personally like and use Riverstone although there are some businesses on Sherman that I try to patronize as well. Riverstone is convenient and there are not several traffic signals to have to wait through. Parking is abundant and free. There's businesses there that residents will actually use frequently such as Starbucks, Bordenay, and even Red Robin is usually busy. Everything looks clean and well landscaped. It sits on the popular centennial trail so that you don't have to load your bike onto your car and drive to an access point. It's very easy to understand why this is a success. That Torch CdA committee needs to concentrate on URBAN RENEWAL where it's needed and not be wasting money on irrelevant projects.

     
  • Why Not posted at 7:46 am on Wed, Sep 23, 2015.

    Why Not Posts: 5265

    "willing to sell their souls and the souls of their families and friends and ignorant impressionable young women to exploit." Concerned citizen you are about as ignorant as they come.

     
  • Bob posted at 7:43 am on Wed, Sep 23, 2015.

    Bob Posts: 7

    Whatever happened to the small town by the lake. The charm it once had is gone thanks to developers greed. Has anyone ever noticed the dramatic increase in traffic and yet businesses, condos and housing developments continue to be built. They can't build new roads because there is no room for new roads. I guess what we are looking forward to is a mini Spokane. Enjoy it.

     
  • downtowncda posted at 7:23 am on Wed, Sep 23, 2015.

    downtowncda Posts: 682

    BlackRock - Riverstone. Two large projects. Problems with both. Who pays again when the bank ends up taking property back?

     
  • cisco posted at 7:11 am on Wed, Sep 23, 2015.

    cisco Posts: 287

    Will the pundits coming here provide factual information? What are the residential and commercial occupancy rates for Riverstone now? How many units are for sale.... how long have they been for sale........... how many are REO properties?

    Many developments had big $$$ starbangled visions back then. The developers came from out of state and decided their investments would offer fast money. They were NOT locals considering local perspectives nor long term benefits. Design concepts were incongruous and patchy. They got help from our URD and the methods used were secretive, closely held and not open to public input.

    We have what we have.......... odd buildings, plastic sculptures with garish colors and ineffective lighting. Sure, some of it works better than others. But there is no cohesion. The construction work was temporary and permanent jobs are servile and low paying. Some will see success in evolving CdA into high dollar resortville. Such developments will always be vulnerable to economic cycles and we will be doomed to this roller coaster because of these decisions.

     
  • SHIPOFFOOLS posted at 6:43 am on Wed, Sep 23, 2015.

    SHIPOFFOOLS Posts: 1216

    It is as predictable as mail delivery. Prosperity in towns across America benefits millions of people, yet growth is continually objected to by people who have short visions of the future or no vision at all. Locals for the most part want to be left alone. They enjoy and share in the benefits and yet rail against growth. I was not living here prior to Riverstone planning, only during Riverstone hard times, limited tenants, 2009 to present. Today, Riverstone is quite the place. It shows us that CDA is growing. What else can one say except "Riverstone is certainly a winner". Some people were right, some were wrong, but all of us benefited.

     
  • concernedcitizen posted at 6:26 pm on Wed, Nov 30, 2011.

    concernedcitizen Posts: 2530

    Developers look for opportunities like this, a local government willing to sell their souls and the souls of their families and friends and ignorant impressionable young women to exploit. Then move on to greener pastures.

     
  • JClark posted at 6:13 pm on Wed, Nov 30, 2011.

    JClark Posts: 91

    "This (Riverstone) will be the place to shop in North Idaho"......Oh great....as a downtown business owner and property owner...I have this LCDC and Council to thank for attempting to DESTROY the current downtown. Downtown Coeurd'Alene has survived IN SPITE OF the current regimes attempts at improvement on the taxpayer dime. I love the way they extort money for parking and discourage the local shopping traffic. They could be putting out a red carpet for locals and extracting money from tourists only for big events and tourist season....but NO. The locals get punished. Riverstone even has the vacant, ghost town MAIN STREET. This must be what the some current council members mean by a "vision to the future" I suggest get real and in the now and get back to the areas in great current need.

     
  • adamgraves posted at 11:57 am on Wed, Nov 30, 2011.

    adamgraves Posts: 47

    Mike, GREAT ARTICLE! I wish the press would more regularly write accurate and informative articles on complex issues such as this. Kudos.

     
  • pmatthews posted at 11:07 am on Wed, Nov 30, 2011.

    pmatthews Posts: 2

    Extraordinarily well written, balanced, and informative article on a devilishly complex topic. Would that Riverstone had put the same level of care in crafting their built environment.

     
  • Mary Souza posted at 9:58 am on Wed, Nov 30, 2011.

    Mary Souza Posts: 813

    Well said, Brent Reagan, especially when you explain that "“Public-private partnership” is code for transferring taxpayer money to projects favored by politicians."

    Mike Patrick, your descriptions were great and reminded me of a few details about Riverstone: Way back in the development's planning period, when I was on P&Z, there was a lot of concern about the visual impact of the buildings from NW Blvd; the height of the cupola on the theater, the look of the buildings from the back, and the HVAC units on the top. As you so aptly described, Mike, as the "...windowless massive rear end of Regal Cinemas and retail space spreading north, buildings as blunt and bland from the back as they are warm and welcoming from the front. The theater’s sprawling roof, where air conditioning units crouch like abandoned cars on a forgotten tarmac..."

    P&Z asked John Stone, time and time again, to improve the street view of the buildings and build a short wall to hide the HVAC units. I bet John Bruning, who was chair of P&Z, asked 5 times, as did I and others. John Stone promised each time, and each time nothing was done. The mayor, city council and permit dept. never forced Mr. Stone. He got everything he wanted, the way he wanted it, and just ignored his promises.

     
  • paineite posted at 9:03 am on Wed, Nov 30, 2011.

    paineite Posts: 22

    EASILY the best article written for the Press in a long long time ... perhaps ever. Hope you can maintain the uptick in quality.

     
  • concernedcitizen posted at 8:54 pm on Tue, Nov 29, 2011.

    concernedcitizen Posts: 2530

    I have to agree with some of the posters here. It is easy to go overboard when spending other peoples money.

    "bringing with it a burst of bricks and mortar for Riverstone" I remember a wonderful tree lined river with the history of the Pacific Northwest running through it and you stripped every native tree, bush and plant from the land.

    Riverstone would have been a better fit if it were not a hodge podge of slammed together cubicals and were more in the atmosphere of North Idaho.

    But no, to the city/LCDC it is all about maximizing the tax base by squashing as many people into the smallest place possible. That is so NOT north Idaho. The majority of people move to North Idaho for what is lacking where they came from -------- SPACE.

    The city, LCDC and state need to look up the definition of "BLIGHT". And these "JOBS" that you speak of are ALL minimum wage or SUB minimum wage $3.35 plus tip.

    Yes sir Mr Stone, mayor and LCDC, that is something only YOU would be proud of.

     
  • Jeffrey Wherley posted at 7:43 pm on Tue, Nov 29, 2011.

    Jeffrey Wherley Posts: 3969

    Dan you are so right, this is probably the best written journalistic article I have read in the Press. Great job Mike.

    What is sad about the Riverstone Development is it is in the wrong location. It is in the backside of a forgotten city. A Commercial Development like that needs to be able to be seen to attract traffic. Down in that Hole, one exit away from a major Hwy with limitless opportunities for live/work/play, it is invisible to any traffic not advertised for. 15th and Sherman or Appleway and 4th, that development would have succeeded. Now in 10 years it will be another example of URDs forced spread of modernized Blighted Spread. A large Chain Hotel (the resort would fight that) or High volume anchor department store (Barnes and Nobles not near enough & walmart, Kmart or Target would never be allowed ) would be riverstone's only salvation. I'm sure Mr Stone knows this now and wishes he would have not taken the hook dangled so enticingly in front of him. An over priced Coffee shop and Movie Theater isn't enough to draw a cities attention or business.

    A City much like a House must have a Flow to it's layout or parts are unused, unless forced by attractions, and even then are often abandoned for better convenience. Downtown CDA is too small and too inconvenient for a modern usable Downtown. Short of Replacing all the Single family residential zoning for C & RC zoning, the Downtown area is incapable of every becoming what people see as the city center.

    CDA is doing what so many cities have tried to do after poor governance left it's Downtown blighted. They are trying to hold onto a "Downtown" because that is where it has always been. The City should have moved out of "Downtown" soon after the Blight and disconnect from development was noticed, and created a Historic Downtown/Resort or College/resort Comp plan and URD to make the comp plan a reality. Since the Resort is Planted there options are extremely limited and Sealed "Downtowns" Doom, to a historic landmark, the day it was Approved.
    An URD without a Comp Plan to direct and guide it, is good money being thrown away at best or crony Capitalism at it's worst.

     
  • Brent Regan posted at 5:41 pm on Tue, Nov 29, 2011.

    Brent Regan Posts: 736

    Thank you Mike for dusting off the truth.

    Riverstone is prime example of the shortcomings of a government/business “partnership”. If a business venture is clearly worthwhile then private sector funding can be secured. If the venture is not worthwhile the funding gets supplied from the public purse via the politicians who cite ephemeral advantages as justification. Why should public tax dollars be used to fund a bike trail for Goodlander’s cardiologist friend?

    Where is the general public good? The $3M pond? News flash, there is a lake just around the corner. Now that the park and pond are public property two things happen, there is no tax revenue and now there is perpetual maintenance expense. Thanks for that.

    “Public-private partnership” is code for transferring taxpayer money to projects favored by politicians. Politicians who want to leave a legacy funded by others and with the support of dreamers, untethered to reality. They do not, and cannot, shortcut the cold hard facts of economics. The irony is that if Stone had not found a willing LCDC, he would be much better off today. Our dreams frequently exceed our reach. The trick is in the knowing.

     
  • lone wolf posted at 5:14 pm on Tue, Nov 29, 2011.

    lone wolf Posts: 246

    CATO Institute fellow: Urban renewal reduces development
    by Brad Carlson
    Published: January 27,2011
    Time posted: 10:54 am
    Tags: CATO Institute, City of Boise, Idaho Freedom Foundation

    Urban renewal agencies reduce commercial real estate development eventually, CATO Institute Senior Fellow Randal O’Toole said.

    More development will occur in the long term without an urban renewal district, he said in an interview in Boise. Developers are encouraged to build and renovate only if they get money from the urban renewal agency, and the agency in turn is encouraged to create more renewal districts to accommodate developers, he contended.

    “I don’t think communities are better off,” O’Toole said. “Development would have happened anyway, though probably not at that location” without a renewal district.

    People who own commercial buildings in urban renewal districts won’t see their property tax bills increase right after the district is created, but eventually will pay more or see less service, he said. Taxing districts can’t tax on the increased value of an urban renewal area but must provide service to those projects, so they will raise levies and collections where possible to cover rising costs, he said.

    O’Toole, based near Portland, was in Boise Jan. 26 to deliver a presentation to Idaho legislators, local elected officials and others. The Idaho Freedom Foundation (Wayne Hoffman), a tax accountability group based in Nampa, hosted the event.


    Bill Says:
    January 28th, 2011 at 7:50 pm
    I can’t wait until the wingnut, atavistic moron-conservatives in Idaho’s Imperial Legislature fully gut all existing urban renewal statutes. If you think you’ve had a commercial real estate crash up until now, you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet, Bubba. Every major lender on Planet Earth will red-line the Gem State; it’ll be the Bosnia of the American West. (make no mistake that’s exactly what their puppet masters at IACI & the Farm Bureau want).


    CATO Institute and IFF equal Koch Brothers Control
    Tea Party extremists

     
  • hubba1 posted at 3:49 pm on Tue, Nov 29, 2011.

    hubba1 Posts: 23

    One of these days Riverstone will be Coeur d Alene shining star. One where a person may drive from NIC through a beautiful education corridor, beautiful shopping, beautiful bike trails, to a glorious sports complex that will house a professional team and a state HS football and basketball championships.

    Remember then who the naysayers now are and when they take credit for all of this vision remind them of their small minded pettiness that was rejectted in favor of the Kroc center, Library, and now Riverstone.

     
  • posted at 2:53 pm on Tue, Nov 29, 2011.

    Posts:

    Thank you, Dan!

     
  • Dan Gookin posted at 2:02 pm on Tue, Nov 29, 2011.

    Dan Gookin Posts: 752

    Great article, Mike! I read it twice, I enjoyed it that much!

     
  • DeNiles posted at 1:42 pm on Tue, Nov 29, 2011.

    DeNiles Posts: 2450

    Contributing to the failure of this and other URD efforts are project designs that are honestly dumb and ugly. Perhaps they envisioned a day when other construction would hide their eyesores but they neglected to consider the impact on marketability. Stones pricing schedule on his condos was comical and obscene. The concrete menagerie was grotesque sitting amidst the natural beauty of this area. His fake lake, why bother? And, no, it wasn't donated. He got an additional tax break consideration from the city for deeding the lake and the park and it failed too because his concept failed. Is Riverstone prettier than the gravel pit it replaced? Let's wait until Riverstone has aged the same as that old gravel pit had before we decide. As for now Riverstone is little more than an expensive roost for bird droppings. The man speculated, shooting for the stars and he lost. We lost too. And unless the current admin changes the LCDC will somehow be extended beyond 2027. By then Berns oughtta be making over a $million$ annually.

     
  • Mary Souza posted at 12:28 pm on Tue, Nov 29, 2011.

    Mary Souza Posts: 813

    The false comfort of LCDC's promised $$$$ caused John Stone to overbuild. When the economy tanked, Stone was caught short and went down. Now he's angry and wants to blame others for the poor business decisions he made.

    Urban Renewal in Idaho highly vulnerable to corruption, and changes in the law to provide more oversight and accountability have been unsuccessful because they've been fought by cities wanting to bypass voters on public spending, urban renewal agencies wanting to retain unelected power over massive taxpayer dollars and big money developers wanting to line their pockets. (So glad I got to write that lline!)

     
  • me again posted at 12:27 pm on Tue, Nov 29, 2011.

    me again Posts: 40

    It may be unfair to say but while reading about Stone I got the distinct impression that he desperately wanted to say LCDC should pay him off now. In the context of today, he wanted to keep all the profits but stick the taxpayer with any losses. Sound familiar? Stone talks about the infrastructure improvements he paid for but without Riverstone we never would have needed them. Business developments should never be funded by the taxpayer, only those willing to risk their money. That's what makes the 1%.

     
  • Why Not posted at 12:18 pm on Tue, Nov 29, 2011.

    Why Not Posts: 5265

    Very good article. Hopefully people will read it and it will help them to understand what a gift this project is to the community. It creates jobs, increases the tax base and has transformed a gravel pit into a terrific gateway for Coeur d' Alene.

    To LCDC, it's accepted that most people in this community are satisfied with the result at Riverstone and other projects the URD is involved with, maybe they won't admit it but they are. These projects for the most part are benefiting the citizens of the entire county. The problem has been the communication between citizens and URD and the financial questions that come along with complicated financing schemes.

    There is a feeling of sneakiness and it has not abated. Granted there is good reason to stay quiet. There are inherent risks to making contracts public too early. There are people ready to pounce on opportunities for personal gain and there are NIMBY's who object to any progress big or small. If John Stone had announced he was reopening that quarry ten years ago, there would have been people upset, that's the nature of the beast. It takes big ones to do what he did and I for one appreciate it.