The Journal Record Building, largely empty since it was damaged by the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, is set to be redeveloped later this year with completion possible by summer of 2015.
The Oklahoma City Industrial and Cultural Facilities Trust, which owns the eastern two-thirds of the building at 621 N Robinson Ave., approved a deal Wednesday to sell the property to Bond Payne, co-chairman of Heritage Trust Co., for $7.25 million.
Payne said Wednesday he wants to start a $40 million redevelopment of the landmark building, and construction of a 409-space garage across the street on the site of the former downtown YMCA, “as soon as possible.” Payne’s effort to buy and redevelop the building began three years ago, and involved a series of approvals for tax increment financing, Murrah Building recovery fund loans and historic tax credits.
“It is still a very challenging deal legally and financially to do,” Payne said. “It was hard for me at times to understand why it took so long to get here. But with all the complexities, you can see why.”
The negotiations included a big gap in the appraised $7.24 million price established by the trust and a $1.8 million estimate provided by an appraiser hired by Payne. Frank Hill, Payne’s attorney, acknowledged the $1.8 million was determined by a different formula and was submitted before more recent development in the area, including the conversion of the old Central High School into the new Oklahoma City University law school.
John Michael Williams, attorney for the trust, said the agreement calls for a $2 million drop in the sales price if Payne is unable to obtain historic tax credits. The agreement gives Payne up to five months for “due diligence” before the sale is completed.
“I think it is the most important building in Oklahoma City from a historical, architectural, cultural, and spiritual perspective,” Payne said. “We were uniquely suited to do something; we’re local, we had the idea that was appealing to the city and the memorial. They felt we would be good stewards to the building. It makes us a part of the downtown business community and demonstrates our commitment to being here for the next generation.”