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Reported Sale To California Developer Could Finally Solve First National Flux

First National Center in downtown Oklahoma City, from the top of the Devon Tower.
Brian Hardzinski

The fate of one of Oklahoma City's most historic skyscrapers could soon be determined.

A California developer told The Oklahoman he'll close later this summer on the purchase of the First National Center in downtown.

Stephen Goodman of the Pleastanton, California-based Goodman and Associates plans to start a $140 million redevelopment project next year that will turn the 1931 art deco building into a combination of offices, retail, restaurants, luxury housing, and a four-star hotel.

The Oklahoman’s Steve Lackmeyerreports Goodman wanted to finalize his $23 million purchase at the end of 2014, but legal battles over the ownership of First National Center delayed his purchase.

Those questions were settled last week by U.S. District Judge Stephen Friot, who ordered the disputes be separated from the pending sale and that the transaction continue with proceeds going into an escrow account. Goodman said he has dealt with complicated transactions before, but admitted “this one is a little soap operaish.” “It seems to be my lot in life that no matter what I do, I end up inheriting some drama,” he said. “What we do as a company focuses on historic buildings, buildings that are distressed and not being fully utilized.”

The uncertainty over the building’s future has put First National’s tenants in a tough spot. Let’s Do Greek owner Mahshid Aguilar told The Journal Record’s Molly Fleming management told her first-floor occupants would be allowed to stay in the building.

But Aguilar said she has heard from other tenants that the building will be sold on July 22 and the businesses will have 60 days to find a new place. … While the sale is being negotiated, longtime business owner Nancy Farha said she’s stuck in a tight spot because she can’t negotiate a new lease for her women’s clothing and accessory store while being under contract at First National Center. She has been at FNC for 24 years. She said she has yet to receive anything in writing from the management staff, but she wants to stay downtown. If she can’t find retail space, she said she didn’t know what she would do.

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Brian Hardzinski is from Flower Mound, Texas and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He began his career at KGOU as a student intern, joining KGOU full time in 2009 as Operations and Public Service Announcement Director. He began regularly hosting Morning Edition in 2014, and became the station's first Digital News Editor in 2015-16. Brian’s work at KGOU has been honored by Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI), the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters, and local and regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. Brian enjoys competing in triathlons, distance running, playing tennis, and entertaining his rambunctious Boston Terrier, Bucky.
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