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Oklahoma City Approves TIF Money For Historic Projects; Real Estate Slump In Gaillardia

The neon sign still stands outside the Sunshine Cleaners building at 1012 NW First St. in Oklahoma City.
Brent Fuchs
The Journal Record
The neon sign still stands outside the Sunshine Cleaners building at 1012 NW First St. in Oklahoma City.

The revitalization of downtown Oklahoma City continues to move west, and developers are always looking for ways to offset or subsidize the costs of their projects.

On Tuesday, the Oklahoma City Council unanimously approved giving nearly $1 million in public funding to two rundown buildings. One of these projects might be familiar to anyone who’s driven through the western edge of downtown near the Oklahoma County Jail because of the massive Sunshine Cleaners neon sign that sits atop the building. Developer David Wanzer presented the project to the city council on Tuesday, acknowledging that calling this building an eyesore would almost be a compliment.

“It’s sat empty and desolate for about two or three decades. It has literally had homeless encampments in the building,” Wanzer said. “I do believe the city at one time actually went and had to put the metal panels up on the window to secure the building. So it’s been a strain on city services. It’s been a strain on the neighborhood.”

The Journal Record’s managing editor Adam Brooks says the Sunshine Cleaners project will get about $550,000 in tax increment financing, or TIF, money to do a full rehab on the building.

“It has no roof,” Brooks said. “It had trees growing on the inside. It even had a boat sitting inside of it.”

Wanzer said during the city council meeting he plans to put a craft brewery, a restaurant and offices into the property.

The other project sits at the southern boundary of Midtown at the intersection of NW 5th Street and Lee Ave. The four-story, 14,000 square foot Townhouse Hotel received $350,000 in TIF funds.

“It's been called a flophouse for the last few decades,” Brooks said. “It had 44 single units before. It'll be 17, so they'll be a little bit bigger.”


During Tuesday’s meeting, Councilman Pete White seemed enthusiastic about both of these David Wanzer projects, and he said he wanted state lawmakers to take note of these projects as they examine tax credits during the current budget crisis.

“This is a perfect example of two buildings that would just continue to fall into further ruin until they were demolished that are going to be saved and are going to be really important to that part of downtown that historic tax credits make possible,” White said.

Other city government officials were pleased too, according to The Journal Record’s Brian Brus:

Cathy O’Connor, executive director of the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority, said she is often approached by developers who want TIF funds but don’t understand their purpose or who intend to flip a property quickly for profit. O’Connor said many of them are “pretty crazy ideas. … They just don’t make any sense.” Such proposals are turned away on a case-by-case basis, she said. Councilman Ed Shadid asked for recordings of such conversations to confirm the process.

The Gaillardia neighborhood located at Memorial Road and MacArthur Boulevard in Oklahoma City.
Credit Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record
The Journal Record
The Gaillardia neighborhood located at Memorial Road and MacArthur Boulevard in Oklahoma City.

Lethargic Luxury Listings

Kevin Durant has sold his house.

Not because of the reason everyone’s afraid of – that the Oklahoma City Thunder star will depart for a bigger-market team once he becomes a free agent – but to move closer to work.

Durant moved from Gaillardia in far northwest Oklahoma City to the Deep Deuce neighborhood not far from the Chesapeake Energy Arena. He took a pretty significant hit – he listed it for $1.9 million and sold it for $925,000, and The Journal Record’s Molly Fleming writes that it’s part of a larger trend in luxury real estate:

[Churchill-Brown Realtor Philip Churchill] said he’s seen other homes in the neighborhood take similar hits, with some homes listed for $4 million selling for $900,000 less. A home on the same street as Durant’s sold in September for $1.16 million, or $204 per square foot. It had a market value of $1.4 million that year. Another home at 14900 Gaillardia Lane sold for $1.5 million, or $259 per square foot. It was last sold in 2007 for $1.7 million. A third home sold in September 2015 for $1.46 million or $247 per square foot. It had a market value of $1.6 million for that year.

Brooks says Durant’s situation was unique, because the property has a converted cabana that Durant actually lived in while his mother Wanda Pratt lived in the 5,500 square foot main home.

So who’s been affected by this? Logic would dictate high-level energy executives might be the first to sell luxury property, but Fleming reports that’s not the case:

Churchill said he’s seeing medical professionals make purchases in Gaillardia. [ Keller-Williams Realtor Ann] Wilson said she’s had aerospace-related clients as well. She said she spends a lot of time studying the numbers, looking at sales prices and listing prices. “It’s a potentially shifting market,” she said. “(Realtors) have to have their eyes opened to do a good job. It changes that quickly.” Churchill said he’s seen some clients who can’t find a home they want resort to building a house. Gaillardia has three custom-built homes under construction now, with seven homes being built in Nichols Hills.

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The Journal Record is a multi-faceted media company specializing in business, legislative and legal news. Print and online content is available via subscription.

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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