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OKC approves $45 million First National investment
The City Council approved without discussion Tuesday a $45 million public investment in the redevelopment of the long-vacant First National Center downtown.
Local developers Gary Brooks and Charlie Nicholas bought the 1-million-square-foot former bank and office building for $23 million in January with plans to redevelop it as mixed-use residential and business space with parking.
They also revealed financing gaps for each component: $16 million for a garage, $20 million for a hotel and $9 million for the residential tower. The developers requested city assistance in the form of a loan shortly after finishing the garage.
In preparation for the project, the City Council in February 2016 adopted an ordinance that amended the Downtown/MAPS Economic Development Plan in creating a tax increment district and producing additional ad valorem and sales tax revenue. On Tuesday, council members agreed that $40 million of the money will come from that district’s ad valorem increment budget and $5 million will come from the sales tax increment budget.
City Council members agreed that the time frame for incurring the project costs in the form of development financing assistance will be over 10 years, incrementally through bond issuance.
Brent Bryant, Oklahoma City economic development manager, said earlier the deal represents a complex financing structure for the private sector but also a necessary step to make the property a productive part of the city’s tax base again. The memorandum of agreement will provide the bank with comfort in making a loan to the developer, he said.
Selective demolition at the site began in February. Construction is expected to start in early 2018.
City officials also recently approved a brownfield revolving loan to help with environmental abatement for asbestos. The loan begins at $1 million with the option of increasing to $2.5 million if funds are available.