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Looking into why announced projects stall
In the Oklahoma City metro area and its surrounding communities, many development projects have been planned, talked about or reported as forthcoming. Looking back, some projects took off and did well, while others never came to fruition, or simply fell off of people's 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?!?"
The Plan: In May 2005, Chesapeake Energy purchased the former Laredo's Mexican Grill & Cantina site at 936 NW 63 for $2.7 million, so the Gonzalez family purchased property in the Belle Isle area to reopen its restaurant. Construction for a new Laredo's Mexican Restaurant has been underway ever since at 5111 N Classen Blvd.
The Problem: According to family member Julian Gonzalez, there have been problems with general contractors on the project, which has resulted in delay after delay for the eatery's completion.
The Prospect: Gonzalez says the project is in the last phase of construction. Recently, a plumbing inspection has taken place, and finishing touches on the building's interior are being completed. He says an opening is scheduled for later this month.
Covell Place Town Center
The Plan: A $400 million, mixed-use development was proposed at the corner of Covell Road and Interstate 35 in Edmond by Mike Galiga of As One Group, Roddy Bates and Mike Dillard. Plans were to bring more than 1.2 million square feet of retail space to the site, with a possible hotel. The project would include office space, and was under consideration for Edmond's new conference center. Plans for the three corners of the intersection were to build retail and a hotel/conference center on the northwest corner, then to build multilevel office buildings with "less intense" retail in the front. Big-box retail was planned for the southwest corner.
The Problem: Todd McKinnis, partner in the McAlister McAlister McKinnis & Tuggle law firm and general counselor for the project, says the center has been affected by the downturn in the retail sector.
"They were on their way with one large, national retail development partner, and then that group pulled back on virtually every project in the United States. Covell was one of them," he says.
In conversations with the city of Edmond, McKinnis says the group felt all along that the retail would come first, because that was where all of the activity was happening.
"We never knew when the office would take place, but we knew it would happen someday," he says. "Fast-forward to today, and the office and the retail have flipped."
The Prospect: Dillard and Bates are still the owners of the property, but they have brought in Turner and Company to develop the site. McKinnis says the development's financing has been put in place recently, and dirt began moving in late June on the northeast corner of I-35 and Covell, to be called Cross Timbers Office Park.
"There are fantastic plans to really take advantage of the natural topography out there and wonderful water features and develop a high-end office project," McKinnis says. "They (Bates and Dillard) have the financial wherewithal and the local presence and the commitment to make something happen on their land, as opposed to just waiting."
The Plan: Shri Krishnapriya Hospitality LLC planned to build a seven-story, 125-room, extended-stay Candlewood Suites on the northeast corner of Reno and Lincoln Boulevard.
Architect Fred Quinn with Quinn & Associates was retained for the project. Bricktown Urban Design Committee approved the project in November 2008.
The Problem: Investment Specialist James Durocher says the Candlewood Suites has not been built due to talks between him and Oklahoma Department of Transportation regarding a SKH-owned piece of land, which ODOT may need for a ramp, as well as the developer's need for part of an ODOT-owned triangle property to build the structure as currently designed in size.
"On the east side of the property that the developer owns, there would be a need in the future for some of that property to build a ramp to the possible future boulevard to go (with) the I-40 Crosstown Expressway," says ODOT's David Streb. "We wanted to make sure the developer was fully aware of that, that in the future, the DOT may need to acquire some of their property to allow that ramp. It's roughly 75 feet off the back of it."
Durocher says initial talks between both parties included a suggestion of a possible trade, but ODOT said no. He says SKH then wanted to buy the triangle property, but was denied. Durocher says ODOT has indicated an interest in purchasing all of SKH's property as a whole, but no decision has been made.
"Once we give up that room in the back (to ODOT), it changes the footprint of the hotel," Durocher says. "We've been the only people that have stepped up and said, 'Really? Then we need to wait and try to work nicely with you,' because we can build the hotel, and if they don't like that hotel and it doesn't work into their plans, they have to cover the costs and say, 'We need to buy that hotel out, and we need to demolish it.' And with that comes all of those additional costs."
Durocher says the costs would come from taxpayers.
The Prospect: Durocher says he wants to work things out with ODOT, and Streb says, to his knowledge, he does not see a reason why the developer could not move forward. When Streb was asked if there was any reason why the building couldn't be constructed as originally designed, he says, "That's why we told them to stay 75 feet away."