A development group that submitted a proposal to build a mixed-use project on Tulsa Development Authority-owned land in downtown's East Village has offered $63,000 to purchase the lot, but a recent appraisal of the property valued it at $210,000.
The 0.32-acre site, located at S. 3rd Street and Frankfort Avenue, would be home to a three-story project called the Lofts on Frankfort and would feature both retail and residential space along with an underground parking garage.
Requests for proposals to develop the site were sought by Jones Lang LaSalle, a Chicago-based real estate firm hired by the authority in 2007 to market several of its properties. The only response to the RFP came from the Tulsa-based University Development Group, which wants to build 20 dwelling units on the second and third floors of the project.
O.C. Walker II, the TDA's executive director, said representatives of Jones Lang LaSalle would be trying to negotiate a purchase price with the potential developers.
"If that number is reached, we'll hopefully draw up a contract" and act on it at the authority's board meeting in November, he said.
Walker acknowledged there was a wide gap between the developers' offer and the appraisal, but he was hopeful there was room for compromise on both sides.
"Certainly, we want to be good stewards for our own resources," he said. "We don't want to give it away for under fair-market value, but we want to participate in the economic development of Tulsa."
The TDA has owned the property for several years after purchasing it from the University of Tulsa for approximately $89,000.
Walker also said the authority has executed a contract to purchase an abandoned apartment complex at 2417 E. 5th Place in the Kendall-Whittier neighborhood and expects to close on the property by the end of November.
The agreement between the TDA and current owner Victor Whitmore calls for the 38,000-square-foot property to be sold for $900,000.
Walker said the TDA plans to demolish the dilapidated structure within 30 days of acquiring it to make room for a neighborhood park. The complex has long been unoccupied and has become the spawning location of neighborhood crime, according to residents.
Meanwhile, the status of a request by the founders of the state's planned fine arts high school to acquire TDA-owned land northeast of downtown is still in limbo.
David Downing, who along with his father-in-law John Brock has led the effort to create the Oklahoma School for the Visual and Performing Arts, said on Oct. 19 his group's bid to acquire a site at the south end of the Evans Fintube property along Archer Street has been slow-tracked by TDA officials because of issues raised by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Downing said the request originally was placed on TDA's work-study session agenda for Oct. 13 and was to have been brought up for a vote at its board meeting on Oct. 15, "but they asked us to hold off until they got those issues resolved," he said.
Downing said he is optimistic those issues could be resolved by the next TDA board meeting in November and that his group's request to acquire the land could be voted on at that point.
"I'm hoping that will happen," he said. "But the wheels grind slowly."
Downing said his group is not actively pursuing any alternate sites for the school.
"We're not really putting all our eggs in that basket, but we've got a good feeling we'll get it, based on our talks with O.C. and with the board," he said.
The school was authorized earlier this year with the passage of House Bill 1737 by the Legislature and Gov. Brad Henry's signature, but funding for the project was not included in the bill.
Downing is seeking to have the property at the Evans Fintube site donated for the residential school, which would house 200 students from across the state studying dance, drama, music, painting, photography, writing, film, etc. Admission to the school would be based on a competitive audition process.
Downing has said organizers will need to raise $20 million to $25 million to build the school, outfit it and create an endowment. He has said an existing building on the Evans Fintube site would make a good home for the school, but other structures, such as a dormitory, would have to be built.
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