Developers paid $4.4 million Wednesday for the north half of the former Stewart Metal Fabricators plant in east Bricktown as they move forward with a plan to build a $75 million mix of apartments, retail and a hotel.
The development is considered by observers at city hall to be one of the more complicated private/public development efforts since the renovation and reopening of the century-old Skirvin hotel in 2006.
Gary Brooks and Andy Burnett, principles in Bricktown Apartments LLC., first announced plans for the project earlier this year when they successfully obtained $4.5 million in federal stimulus funding.
The grant will help pay for the relocation of a large storm sewer line and remove contamination on the site. Other funding sources include $1.5 million in federal brownfield (contamination removal) loans approved Tuesday by the Oklahoma City Council.
As part of the stimulus funding agreement, Brooks and Burnett agreed to include 50 units that are affordable under federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program standards, as well as 200 market rate units to meet the demands of tenants moving downtown — especially students, athletes and employees of the nearby Oklahoma Health Center.
Yet another component of the deal required a land swap between the former owner, Bob Meinders, and the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority, which controlled parcels of land on the north half of the former Stewart property.
“The real stars of this deal are the people at city hall and the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority,” Burnett said. “The local departments of planning, the brownfields officials, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Urban Renewal Authority really paved the way here.”
Brooks, who is also developing the $36 million, 250-unit Edge apartments in MidTown, said he expects demolition of the Stewart Metal Fabricators buildings will begin in January. Site cleanup, relocation of the sewer lines and utilities are then expected to continue for 12 to 15 months. Brooks said if all goes as planned, construction could begin in early 2014.
“This was a big milestone,” Brooks said. “But we have a lot more milestones in east Bricktown than on most other projects.”
Brooks said he is contemplating combining the first phase of 250 apartment units and the second phase of 100 units and building them all at once. The entire site will ultimately span the north side of Sheridan Avenue between Lincoln Boulevard and Joe Carter Avenue.
The project also will include structured parking garages and 20,000 square feet of retail along the first level of the complex facing Sheridan Avenue.
Burnett said the property represents one of the last big development opportunities left in the entertainment district.
“I've liked this site for a long time but because of all of the underground issues it was hard to tackle,” Burnett said. “It's hard to find 4.5 acres in the downtown core. The only reason this hasn't been developed is because of the site costs. This site is the gateway into Bricktown for anyone coming from the east or south side of the city. For the past 40-plus years, the metal fabrication buildings were your first sight coming into Bricktown.”
Brooks praised Meinders for patiently working with the development team and working through the complicated arrangements. Brett Price, who represented Meinders on the sale, predicted the development will spur interest in the south side of the street, part of which has been sold for future hotel construction, but the remainder of which is undeveloped.
“I am excited to see the next chapter for this property,” Price said. “The future of east Bricktown just got a lot brighter. We still have some land available in that area but with all the momentum and buzz in that area we don't anticipate it being available for very long.”
This was a big milestone. But we have a lot more milestones in east Bricktown than on most other projects.”
Bricktown Apartments LLC