David Box, owner of The Greens Country Club, submitted the sole bid at a public foreclosure auction Thursday for the troubled landmark Gold Dome building.
The owner, Dr. Irene Lam, was not present as bids were accepted at 10 a.m. in the offices of Blaney and Tweedy, the law firm representing the lender, Bank 7. Attorney Kevin Blaney started the bid at $771,734.84 — the amount owed to Bank 7 — and it was followed by a bid from Box of $800,000.
Box, who has experience buying and developing properties on Campus Corner in Norman and in Bricktown and Automobile Alley, said he has yet to come up with a plan for the Gold Dome. He offered earnest money of $50,000 and tentatively agreed to close on Sept. 24.
“I think it's a cool building,” Box said. “It's great for Oklahoma City. We want to try to make it work. I wish I could tell you I have a grand plan, but I don't.”
Box said he does not intend to tear down the building.
Those watching the auction included developer Dick Tanenbaum, who owns the neighboring Classen condominium tower, and two Gold Dome tenants — Julio Passarelli, owner of the bar Zona Viva, and Vickie Lykins, owner of Americare One Source.
Both Passarelli and Lykins said they signed leases in the past few months, unaware that Lam was facing foreclosure. Both stopped their plans to move in when they learned Lam was about to lose control of the property.
In the meantime, Lykins said, her space has been without heating or air conditioning, and she has a leak in a storage closet.
Such complaints did not surprise Richard Suave, whose Prohibition Room restaurant closed last year after a bitter dispute with Lam over building operations. Suave complained that customers' access to his restaurant was hampered by frequent parties, concerts and events Lam booked in the lobby outside his entrance.
Box said he did “due diligence” and was familiar with the building's maintenance challenges. He said existing leases will be considered, but must also fit with the building's overall finances.
When the Gold Dome was built at NW 23 and Classen in 1958, the two-story building with the familiar round anodized aluminum roof was touted by Citizens Bank as “the bank of tomorrow.”
By the late 1990s, however, the property had seen a series of bank tenants either fail or acquired by larger bank chains. It was then targeted for demolition by then-owner Bank One, which was planning to sell the corner to Walgreens.
Bank One and Walgreens chose to build new locations east and west of the property and to let the Gold Dome stand after months of protests by preservationists and a sale of the building to Lam.
Vacancy has gone up in recent years with the loss of the Prohibition Room restaurant and the Oklahoma Main Street Program as major tenants.
Lam is also delinquent in paying property taxes, with records showing she owes $49,359 assessed over the past two years. The Oklahoma City Council last year paid off a $1 million federal loan it extended to Lam when she bought the property. City Planning Director Russell Claus said Lam has paid only interest to date on that loan.
Lam was not present at the auction and could not be reached for comment. Her optical shop, Bonavision, is among the building's remaining tenants. Blaney said Lam had tried to make arrangements to prevent the auction and pay off her debt, but was unable to do so.