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In the Oklahoma City metro area and its surrounding communities, many development projects have been planned, talked about or reported as forthcoming. Some projects took off and did well, while others never came to fruition. Some just fell off the radar. okcBIZ takes a look at some of these commercial projects to see whether these deals are moving forward or dead in the water. Simply put, “Whatever happened to that?!?”
Southwest corner of the intersection at Hudson Avenue and Main Street
The plan: While nothing ever was proposed for several properties along Main Street and Hudson Avenue Downtown, developer Nick Preftakes purchased the buildings for more than $12 million, closed a parking garage, and left the remaining space vacant. With the properties just across the street from the Devon World Headquarters, some speculated he bought them as the site for a future office tower due to the vacant space and no call for new tenants. Some ears perked up when, in February at the Commercial Real Estate Council’s yearly forecast, Mark Beffort, a commercial real estate broker with Grubb & Ellis Levy Beffort, told attendees that work on a new corporate headquarters would begin Downtown this year. The Preftakes properties were again mentioned, especially with their proximity to Devon.
The problem: Years have passed with no activity on the buildings. Preftakes’ only properties on the block that were occupied were by the Lunch Box on Sheridan Avenue, and the tower at 1 N. Hudson Ave. As of press time, no plans have been announced for a new tower Downtown.
The prospect: It seems unlikely that Preftakes has plans for a tower at the Main and Hudson site. In March, his firm, Precor Ruffin, advertised about 50,000 square feet of the vacant space for lease at a rate of $15 per square foot for properties in the 400 block of W. Main Street. Rick Pritchett, with Precor Ruffin, stated in the marketing materials that the buildings can be modified to suit tenant specifications. The properties include about a fourth of the block on the northeast corner.2. Sprouts Farmers Market
Oklahoma City, Edmond, Norman
The plan: As recently as 2008, officials with the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber said Sprouts Farmers Market was picking out sites in the metro area for grocery stores. The company was founded in 2002 in Arizona and has more than 100 stores there and in California, Colorado and Texas. The company reports that between May 2009 and October 2010, it opened 23 new stores.
The problem: After the economic slump, those plans were shelved. Other stores, including Fresh Market, Sunflower Farmers Market and Whole Foods Market, also were looking here, but slowed their plans, as well.
The prospect: Last year, both Whole Foods and Sunflower opened their first stores in Oklahoma City. After Sunflower’s opening, the company announced plans for Edmond and Norman. Norman retail brokers say both Sunflower and Sprouts were looking at the city, but Sunflower pulled the trigger first. In March, Sunflower and Sprouts announced plans to merge under the Sprouts Farmers Market banner.
“Subject to regulatory approval, this will create a much stronger company — with more resources, greater access to the freshest products, and a stronger commitment than ever to bring you a wide variety of fresh produce and affordable healthful foods,” the companies said in a joint statement.
Combined, they plan to have about 150 stores and more than 10,000 employees by the end of 2012. While the merger is in progress, both stores plan to operate independently.
“It will take time to work out all the wrinkles,” says Sunflower CEO Chris Sherrell, and Sprouts CEO Shon Boney. “It may be quite a few months before you see the name change on the outside of any store, or before it is easy to buy products at Sprouts and return them at Sunflower. We will take great care to minimize the disruptions, and to continue offering the very best values in town on fresh produce, natural and organic foods.”3. Bricktown residential project
100 E. Main
The plan: Last year, Gary Berlin, owner of the Mideke Supply Building, at Oklahoma Avenue and Main Street — aka Bricktown Mercantile because of an antique store that was housed in the building — brought a plan to the Bricktown Urban Design Committee to convert the fourth and fifth floors of the building into apartments. The plan called for 10 apartments on each floor and six balconies on the east side of the building. At that time, Berlin was proposing apartments as small as 700 square feet, and as large as 1,400 square feet. Rents would range from $1,100 to $1,700. The building, built in 1919, also is used for industrial and retail, and houses a nightclub. Berlin purchased the building in 2007 for $4.2 million.
The problem: Financing has not been obtained for the residential project. The building is an example of other Bricktown buildings that have been criticized for vacant upper floors, such as the neighboring Spaghetti Warehouse building.
The prospect: The plan received a certificate of approval from the Bricktown Urban Design Committee last August. Berlin hired commercial real estate firm Sperry Van Ness/William T. Strange and Associates to look at a housing plan for the building, but as of yet, no plan has been implemented. City planner Paul A. Ryckbost says when a certificate of approval is granted, an applicant has two years to complete the project without having to seek further approval. During that two years, the applicant can apply for an extension. An extension is handled administratively by city staff and does not require action by the committee.
Nevertheless, after two years, if the plan has not materialized, and no extension has been granted, an applicant must start the process over. As of yet, the owner has not sought an extension.
–Photos by Shannon Cornman