Bloem would step aside on high-rise issue - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Bloem would step aside on high-rise issue

Developer Greg Hills has worked with mayor's son, Kurt Lundblad

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Posted: Friday, October 12, 2012 12:00 am

COEUR d'ALENE - If a group of concerned citizens appeals a commission's approval of a proposed downtown high-rise to the City Council, Mayor Sandi Bloem said Thursday she would recuse herself from the process.

Bloem's son, Century 21 real estate agent Kurt Lundblad, has a personal and professional relationship with Colorado developer Greg Hills, who is proposing to build a 14-story apartment building on First Street and Lakeside Avenue.

"I don't know by law if I would have to, but I absolutely would recuse myself just by appearance, because my son is involved," Bloem said.

Lundblad helped facilitate Hills' purchase of the Mudge building where the proposed development would go, and could help market apartments in the future, Hills told The Press Thursday. The two have known each other since around 2002, and Lundblad, who has visited Hills in his hometown Aspen, Colo., has facilitated other real estate transactions for Hills as well.

"I want to be open and honest about it - we do have a friendship," said Hills, principal of real estate development firm Austin Lawrence Partners. "On the same token, I really respect Kurt as a real estate broker. I'm proud to be associated with him in a professional way as well."

The company has said it wants to break ground on an approximately $20 million, 125,000-square-foot project at 201 N. First St. in the spring. Before it can, developers must receive approval from the city's Design Review Commission ensuring the project adheres to building guidelines. So far, the commission has said the plans are passing inspection. The third and likely final meeting between the developers and the design commission is scheduled for noon Thursday, Nov. 1, in the Old Council Chambers at City Hall, 710 E. Mullan Ave.

The proposal has drawn opposition from some neighbors who live nearby. Residents in the adjacent Coeur d'Alene North Condominiums and Lake Tower condos have said they'll sue to stop the building from going up. With a loss of a lake view and sunlight, they say their property values would be hurt if the high-rise is built. The Design Review Commission has an obligation, as stated in its mission statement, to protect their property rights and values, too, they've said.

But if the design commission green-lights the building design Nov. 1, the decision can be appealed to the City Council. The council would have to consider the appeal on its design merits only.

Attorney Scott Reed, who is representing the concerned neighbors, said he is prepared for litigation if it goes that route, but is unsure whether they would appeal the commission's decision to the City Council.

If they do, Bloem said she would "certainly" recuse herself.

"I've been very upfront and honest about this," she said. "My son Kurt has had a very good and professional relationship with Greg ... I've told people that."

Hills has known Bloem for around five or six years, he said, adding that she hasn't been involved in any way during his purchase of the property or the application to build the building.

"She's absolutely not offered any assistance," he said.

Lundblad couldn't be reached for comment Thursday. Hills said Lundblad could be involved in the project if it gets off the ground.

"I would expect him to have some involvement in the building in some capacity going forward," Hills said. "That's what I would hope for, but I don't know what he's going to be doing in five years."

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  • wheels1 posted at 1:19 pm on Mon, Oct 15, 2012.

    wheels1 Posts: 423

    U R. .see U got the msg.

  • spudman1 posted at 12:41 pm on Mon, Oct 15, 2012.

    spudman1 Posts: 451

    Like father,like son....

  • wheels1 posted at 9:32 am on Mon, Oct 15, 2012.

    wheels1 Posts: 423

    Spudman1 U need new material.Miss your msg?

  • concernedcitizen posted at 6:54 pm on Sun, Oct 14, 2012.

    concernedcitizen Posts: 2530

    Well look at EVERYONE that has some form of connection. You go nowhere in this town unless the cliquey people want you to. Business(s) have been run out of the downtown or completely out of town for not playing their game. It does not take a genius to follow a trail with almost EVERY deal that has been done in this town in the past 10 to 15 years.

  • LTRLTR posted at 2:02 pm on Sat, Oct 13, 2012.

    LTRLTR Posts: 1171

    The Mayor of Coeur d'Alene should of excused herself from every decision that has any sort of financial impact to the downtown core since her and family members have properties that would benefit from her vote.

    The focus should be on removing her from office, not the fact that her son is selling some properties.

    The Mayor and Council are responsible for the highrises. Thier goal is to bring more money to the downtown core. It will take the community to remove these people from office and demand change from the new office holders.

  • wheels1 posted at 8:50 am on Sat, Oct 13, 2012.

    wheels1 Posts: 423

    Cynthia's mother was right and tragic is it took her so long to realize it.

  • straight up posted at 8:35 am on Sat, Oct 13, 2012.

    straight up Posts: 933

    Back in the day...

    The Mayor was the Head of Kroc Center Foundation.

    The Mayor pledged that, "no tax dollars" would be given to the Kroc Center.

    The city emptied its "Rainy Day" Fund and give three million dollars to the Kroc Center.

    I don't recall that the Mayor recused herself from that move where the city she led gave three million dollars to the non-profit that she led.


  • estatetracker posted at 12:28 am on Sat, Oct 13, 2012.

    estatetracker Posts: 289

    Since the Mayor's son is an Agent for John Beutler and Century 21, it begs the question of how many other land use decisions she, at minimum, should have disclosed to which a relative was associated.

    And sure, there are technical/legal, albeit very limited definitions of "conflict of interest", yet at the same time even the appearance of conflict errodes public trust which in turn becomes a conflict to public service.

    It would be an interesting accounting of how many projects Beutler/Century 21 proposed to the City Council that flew through the system since hiring of the Mayor''s son. Blackwell Island annexation would probably be a good start to begin that story.

  • heatherfeather posted at 7:26 pm on Fri, Oct 12, 2012.

    heatherfeather Posts: 297

    The city adopted a building code and a zoning designation called Downtown Core (DC) some years ago in response to the newest towers (McEuen Terrace & Parkside).

    I'm not exact on the boundaries of DC zoning, but I think it is south of Wallace between Govt. Way and 7th. There are zoning maps at City Hall. Heights here are capped at 220 feet (about the height of the Resort). In the rest of the city, they are, I think, 75 feet. DC zoning uses a Floor-Area Ratio (FAR) to determine the allowable size of a building in square feet based on the square footage of the lot. In order to have a Parkside-sized tower, one would need half a city block, with the tower occupying about one-third of that block.

    City Council (with or without Bloem) cannot block the proposed tower, it can only veto the design, and would do this based on a review of the Design Committee's decision. I would venture they would demure to the Design Committee, as long as they acted within existing city codes.

  • chouli posted at 4:40 pm on Fri, Oct 12, 2012.

    chouli Posts: 1266

    Jill, does the process to change the existing building codes lie with the city council? or who exactly? It seems these codes were changed to allow the resort...and subsequently the other high rises to be built. Can they not be changed back to restrict the height of future building in the downtown area? I don't think the majority of residents want to see high rise buildings lining the downtown. the small town "quaint-ness" has all but disappeared and isn't that we love about CDA??

  • NAS4AH2 posted at 2:12 pm on Fri, Oct 12, 2012.

    NAS4AH2 Posts: 71

    What difference does it make if she recuses herself? Probably already a done deal. I'd be surprised if this monstrosity isn't built. It's almost as if the connection was about to be leaked so "let's come forward" before it looks even more shady. Bloem comes across as crooked even when they are giving the impression of doing the right thing. Knowing she'll be ousted soon had to get one last cash cow through for sonny. Like I've said time and time again, I'd feed on people like her if there was any blood to be had...

  • spudman1 posted at 1:46 pm on Fri, Oct 12, 2012.

    spudman1 Posts: 451

    I don't know Kurt but that is about as low and dirty as you can get! You really should be proud of yourself hiding behind a keyboard talking BS. A low down coward!

  • gracious few posted at 11:38 am on Fri, Oct 12, 2012.

    gracious few Posts: 285

    oh here we go, I know Kurt and he is no better than his mother...

  • Jill Heine posted at 9:06 am on Fri, Oct 12, 2012.

    Jill Heine Posts: 408

    chouli - regs won't change for some time. Change your city council, attorney, and any employee that has advanced downtown transformation. These rich whiners had opportunity to oppose highrises since LCDC got it's start. Long before reform is possible, approval of more monstrosities that shade existing lake view will be achieved. Hills project will go forward with many others to follow, creating generational wealth for the chosen few. After all, the mayor has a motherly (ugh) obligation to ensure her sons success.

  • Brent Regan posted at 8:35 am on Fri, Oct 12, 2012.

    Brent Regan Posts: 617

    "I don't know by law if I would have to,(snip) recuse myself..." Bloem said.

    How many times, in ignorance of the law, have you failed to recuse yourself in the past?

  • spudman1 posted at 8:32 am on Fri, Oct 12, 2012.

    spudman1 Posts: 451

    Tragic is the Titanic sinking or perhaps a car accident? It hardly applies to folks commenting on issues that impact their city. Of course you can expect potshots from those that have never paid a property tax in their entire lives or are even gainfully employed let alone reside here.

  • IdahoJoey posted at 8:06 am on Fri, Oct 12, 2012.

    IdahoJoey Posts: 343

    And it's the same 6 or so people every day too. Waah waah wahh.

  • wheels1 posted at 7:53 am on Fri, Oct 12, 2012.

    wheels1 Posts: 423

    tragic that all you cavers and conspiracy theorists have nothing better to do on a daily basis than display your, ...well you know.Day after day the same negative vibe.

  • mister d posted at 7:32 am on Fri, Oct 12, 2012.

    mister d Posts: 1531

    She probably should have taken the ethical road on the park scam also.

  • chouli posted at 7:32 am on Fri, Oct 12, 2012.

    chouli Posts: 1266

    well said

    so when will our city work towards changing the existing building codes back to NOT aloow more of the highrises to be built in our "used-to-be quaint little town"??

  • DeNiles posted at 6:48 am on Fri, Oct 12, 2012.

    DeNiles Posts: 2450

    So Bloem's son makes $$$$ off of high dollar upscale developments? What sorts of decisions does Bloem make as Mayor? Would she intentionally vote to cultivate this exact type of business thinking her son would directly or indirectly gain personal profits from her accomplishments?

    Ooooooh, I know the CdA Press is gonna dig hard on this story angle............. Just joking!

  • concernedcitizen posted at 6:20 am on Fri, Oct 12, 2012.

    concernedcitizen Posts: 2530

    AWWWWW now we can start connecting MORE dots to the build up of the downtown and the money grab through the LCDC, the park, etc.

  • voxpop posted at 5:11 am on Fri, Oct 12, 2012.

    voxpop Posts: 738

    Personally, I would rather she just recuse herself from being mayor and be done with it.

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