Two proposals in final running for urban development contract

Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority commissioners narrowed the field
of developers from four to two June 9 for apartment proposals at NW 13
Street and Walker Avenue, where Mercy Hospital once sat.

Questions were raised about financing, plans to hold the projects long term, the amount of retail and parking each would have, and placement of parking garages. Commissioners voted unanimously to keep projects in the running led by Chuck Wiggin and Gary Brooks.

In 2007, Wiggin received the redevelopment agreement for the site to build a condominium project, but eventually had to withdraw after financing fell through.

Commissioner Fred Hall made a motion to move forward with Wiggin’s and Brooks’ projects, but asked staff to look into issues such as placement of a parking garage, financing, equity and timing.

“Each has problems,” Hall said.

Catherine O’Connor, executive director of Urban Renewal, said several factors were favored by OCURA for the ultimate redevelopment of the site. She said commercial space and a good pedestrian experience on Walker Avenue connecting Mesta Park and Heritage Hills to MidTown were favored. Other preferences stated by O’Connor included lasting character and overall quality – including an attractive parking structure – of the project, a rooftop terrace, and a developer who planned to keep the project for at least five years.

Although commissioners praised each of the four proposals, Marva Ellard received no support for her plan. Richard Tanenbaum was supported by Perry, but when he made a motion to award the contract to Tanenbaum, it did not receive a second.

In response to questions about financing, both Brooks and David Huffman, who represented the Wiggin group, said they would apply for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development financing for their respective projects.

O’Connor said it will take OCURA staff a few weeks to address the issues raised by commissioners. The two proposals likely will go before commissioners again later this month or next month.

The Wiggin project calls for 200 residential units with an average rent of $1,243 per month, 375 garage parking spaces and 24,000 square feet of commercial space. The Brooks project would have 242 residential units with an average rent of $970 per month, 462 garage parking spaces, and 7,200 square feet of commercial space.

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