POSTED ON FEBRUARY 27, 2008:
Proposed Brookside development is okay by most riversiders, except for its altitudeBy Brian Ervin
Brookside might be getting some swanky new, upscale apartments in the not-too-distant future, if recently announced plans happen.
The Houston-based Bomasada Group is eyeing some property on Rockford Ave. near 41st St. and Peoria Ave. to be the location of a 5-story, 240-unit, $35-40 million apartment complex development, replete with an internet café, "luxury" swimming pool, "top of the line" fitness center and indoor parking.
John Gilbert, senior vice president for the developers, presented the Bomasada plan to Brookside residents last week, to ambivalent reactions.
"We totally welcome this," said Janine Morales, president of the Brookside Business Association.
"It would replace a rundown development there with more upscale apartments, and we'll have more families out eating and shopping in Brookside," she said.
However, Herb Beattie, a spokesman for the Brookside Neighborhood Association, described his own position on the matter as "very strongly neutral."
He agreed with the benefits anticipated by Morales. "It will be good, having all these people in the neighborhood who can afford to pay that kind of rent," he said.
The Bomasada units are expected to range from $800 to $2,000 a month in rent.
But, based on feedback from renters at the Brookside Annex and Brookside Courtyard apartments, and from other neighborhood residents, he said there are plenty of negatives to balance Morales' celebration of the proposed development.
"The big one is the height," he said. "It would change the character of Brookside. That might not be a bad thing."
At five stories, Beattie said, "That would be the highest structure in Brookside, now that the Camelot is gone, and that was a special situation."
Also, he said a lesser concern among Brookside residents, but a concern nonetheless, is the potential traffic problems created by the addition of the complex.
Another is that the apartment complexes currently occupying the land, with their combined 180 units, will have to be demolished to make room for the new development.
"There's concern that some 180 to 200 people will be evicted," Beattie said.
Those residents are currently paying between $350 and $525 a month for rent, and couldn't afford to pay what it would cost to live in the new apartments.
"There's a convicted felon living there now, who gets a government subsidy. He said there's nowhere else he can go," said Beattie.
He agreed with Morales and others point of view that it would "eliminate some blight in the neighborhood," but said many renters have complained to him that the owner of the existing apartment complexes, Dan Perry of Perry Properties, deliberately created that "blight," in anticipation of the sale.
"He is not well liked at all," said Beattie. "The residents complain a lot that he hasn't made any investment in maintenance there because he's been actively trying to get the property off his hands.
"I heard one lady say she hasn't had hot water in over a month!" Beattie added.
Perry disagreed with the characterization made by those tenants who have spoken out to Beattie.
"I do the best I can with the rent we collect--I spend thousands of dollars a month in maintenance," he told UTW.
Regarding the woman who complained of not having hot water for an entire month--Perry noted that he just had a brand new boiler installed in that apartment complex, which should eliminate the problem.
And rather than actively trying to unload the property, Perry said it was the real estate brokers who approached him, not the other way around.
"I approached Dan," concurred Lex Heidenreich of NAI Commercial Properties, the firm that's brokering the deal between Perry and the Bomasada Group.
Perry also said the concern is "overly dramatic" that his tenants will be dispossessed and homeless when the property is sold.
He said he plans to meet with each of his tenants individually to move them into a similarly sized and priced unit in one of his properties nearby, or to refer them to another apartment complex they can afford.
"I have plenty of other units nearby where they can live," Perry said.
He said the current properties are "perfect for redevelopment."
Along those same lines, Morales said, "This property is going to be sold, regardless. It's just a question of whether it's sold to a developer with a proven track record, or somebody else."
This will be the Bomasada Group's first property in Oklahoma, but they have several other similar developments in Little Rock, Nashville, Albuquerque and in Texas and other states, which have succeeded in bringing all the benefits to those areas foretold by Morales, Perry and Beattie for Brookside.
Regarding the height concerns, Morales said, "They have to go up, because there's no more land in Midtown to build on."
Also, Heidenreich said the development would actually allay some of Brookside's current parking burden.
He said the building's first level will be indoor parking, with additional parking for guests along 41st St.
Heidenreich said there will be "a lot less parking on the street" with the new apartments than there is now, though, because the complex will have between 16 and 20 spaces more than what's required by the city for an apartment building of its capacity.
Perry said he doesn't expect the Bomasada Group to close on the properties until late summer or early fall.
Heidenreich said the development will take between a year and 16 months to construct.
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