Look for something big – and complicated – to ensue when the following people are found gathering in one room: Assistant City Manager Cathy O’Connor, the city’s economic development coordinator Brent Bryant, City Attorney Kenny Jordan and private attorneys Dan Batchelor, Leslie Batchelor and John Michael Williams.
Along with Urban Renewal director JoeVan Bullard and assistant city attorney Dan Brummit, they were the dream team that put together the complicated financing package for the Skirvin Hilton Hotel, and many of the same names were involved with bringing Dell Computers to town, finding a way to finance the Native American Cultural Center, and almost certainly ongoing work in Core to Shore.
Keep all this mind as I quote from today’s story about the impact of the new Devon Tower on downtown’s tax increment financing district:
O’Connor sees no shortage of takers for any increase in TIF funding — and she said she strongly believes Devon’s project will be followed by more high-rises in the immediate neighborhood.
“There is an element of spin-off here,” O’Connor said.
Well now, isn’t that interesting? Now, let’s put this together with what I’ve written previously about veteran developer Nicholas Preftakes:
Main Street land could be landlord’s development ticket
By Steve Lackmeyer
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Edition: CITY, Section: BUSINESS, Page 1B
Over the past few months, Ed Strawn has noticed a steady stream of surveyors outside his downtown landmark cafeteria, the Lunch Box. He assumes they are working for Nicholas Preftakes, who has spent the past two years buying up surrounding properties, and most recently spent $750,000 to add to his collection the one-story building that has been home to the Lunch Box since 1947.
“He doesn’t want us to close,” said Strawn, whose restaurant dates to World War I when it first opened near Sheridan and Broadway. “He told me he won’t be the one to close us down.”
But Strawn reports Preftakes did hint that the Lunch Box could be relocated when his three-year lease expires.
Preftakes’ purchase of the Lunch Box building is fueling rumors that his plans include more than being a landlord over the diverse block bordered by Hudson, Walker, Sheridan and Main.
To date, Preftakes has spent more than $12 million on the block. Only five properties on the block are not under his control. They include 420 W Main, a 10-story office building and surface parking owned by the city, the Union Bus Station at Sheridan and Walker, Pizza Town, 430 W Main and Coney Island, 428, W Main.
Preftakes has declined to discuss his purchases on the block, continuing his silence about any long-term plans. When he bought the Auto Hotel at 17 N Hudson, he ended the contract with Republic Parking and closed it down. Anita Sanders’ law firm immediately left a building they remodeled at 408 W Main after it was bought by Preftakes.
But at One N Hudson, the former Black Hotel, Preftakes has continued to lease the property, most recently adding a restaurant on the ground floor.
So what gives? With Preftakes not talking, all eyes turn to Devon Energy Corp., which is pursuing plans to build a skyscraper across the street from the properties Preftakes owns.
Devon’s Chief Executive Officer Larry Nichols said he doesn’t comment on work involving other developers.
And he has dismissed rumors that Devon was interested in seeing the properties west of Hudson Avenue razed to make way for parking.
Nichols said Devon is only focused on expanding the City Center garage and dedicating it to parking for that company’s work force.
Preftakes is one of downtown’s veteran developers, and is no stranger to new commercial development or redevelopment of old urban properties. He started the downtown living trend with renovation of an old automobile dealership into lofts at NW 13 and Broadway some 13 years ago.
He also took the worn-out former headquarters of C.R. Anthony’s and turned it into a modern office building at 701 N Broadway building.
Brett Hamm, president of Downtown Oklahoma City Inc., admits he, too, is clueless about Preftakes’ ultimate plan. But he predicted future development could include housing, retail, offices or a hotel.