James F. Cotter — Texas tycoon, millionaire mogul, pick a superlative because the shoe, or custom cowboy boot, fits — made a big splash in 2004 by buying Chase Tower, Oklahoma City’s tallest skyscraper. Before that, he made a different kind of splash in downtown Cherokee. It was a muddy one, to hear people tell it in Cherokee, population 1,437, almost spittin’ distance from the Kansas state line and 150 miles northwest of Oklahoma City. That’s just what some people are in Cherokee: mad enough to spit. One of Cotter’s companies, based in San Antonio, wound up with a couple of old but usable buildings along Cherokee’s Grand Avenue. Cotter didn’t want them, but got them in the settlement of a lawsuit in the mid-1990s. Cotter, 75, doesn’t much care what happens to them, from the looks of it — and that’s what has people in Cherokee spittin’ mad when his name comes up. "One has completely disintegrated. The roof has collapsed. It is a facade only,” said Susie Koontz, Cherokee Main Street manager and Chamber of Commerce director. "The other has hope. It is a cute little storefront (but) the back has broken-out windows ... termite damage ... bird droppings in the window. Birds enter where the awning has fallen off.” Koontz has been talking off and on — mostly off — with Brad Simpson of Cotter & Sons in San Antonio. "We’re looking to sell or lease those properties,” he said. "We’re not looking to make a lot of money on it.” The building at 116 S Grand, built in 1916, has 2,050 square feet and an estimated market value of $23,520, county assessor records show. The one at 205 S Grand, built in 1928, has 3,750 square feet and an estimated value of $28,640, records show. Simpson acknowledged he’d never seen the buildings. But he said the offers made so far, around $4,000 or $5,000 apiece, are going nowhere. Koontz said comparable prices for similar buildings — but in good shape, with businesses occupying them — come in much less than the county values. Koontz wants Cotter to have them appraised, and Cherokee Main Street could have them appraised, and they could split the difference — or Cotter could just donate the buildings. "I don’t think Mr. Cotter is willing to donate them,” Simpson said. In the meantime, the buildings are rotten spots along Cherokee’s six-block downtown, and they are continuing to deteriorate. They’re varmint magnets, a temptation for adventurous kids and possibly "a lawsuit waiting to happen,” a Cherokee resident said. The dark gaps in Cherokee’s downtown smile are giving Cotter a black eye.