A tax increment financing package set to be considered Thursday could clear the way for redevelopment of the former Journal Record Building almost 20 years after it was damaged by the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.
A committee tasked with reviewing tax increment financing applications is scheduled to vote on whether to approve issuing $4.75 million toward a $26 million renovation of the building and the $7.2 million construction of 409-space parking garage.
The building, built in 1923, was originally home to the Masonic Temple and was later a movie theater. In the years leading up to the 1995 bombing, it was home to The Journal Record, a business newspaper.
The building was extensively damaged by the bombing, and was acquired and repaired by the city before it was turned over to the Oklahoma Cultural and Industrial Facilities Trust.
The western one-third of the building is owned by the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, and one floor of the eastern two-thirds up for sale is being leased to the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism. The space up for sale is the more ornate entrance facing Robinson Avenue.
Brent Bryant, the city's economic development manager, said an agreement has been struck in which Heritage Trust would buy the building for $7.25 million. The deal also calls for loans from the city's Murrah district revitalization fund, private financing and equity of $1 million.
Heritage Trust also will be seeking historic tax credits.
“This has been one of our more challenging projects,” Bryant said. “In many ways, it is similar to redevelopment of the Skirvin hotel, which itself closed in 1988 and took 19 years to renovate and reopen. We had to get creative.”
21c seeks tax increment financing
Louisville, Ky.-based 21c Museum Hotels is asking for $5.3 million in tax increment financing toward a $51.5 million conversion of the Fred Jones assembly plant at 900 W Main into a hotel and contemporary art gallery.
The application asks for $2 million of the $5.3 million as “assistance in development financing” and the remaining $3.3 million as a low interest loan. The 168,000-square-foot building was originally built in 1916 by auto pioneer Henry Ford as an assembly plant and has been owned by the Fred Jones Family for decades.
The redevelopment calls for 135 hotel rooms, a contemporary art museum and locally owned restaurant. The building is on the west end of Film Row, and is surrounded by blighted properties.
Design work for the project is underway, led by New York architect Deborah Berke, who is teamed up with Edmond-based Hornbeek Blatt.
The tentative partnership agreement between the property's owners, Hall Capital, and 21c calls for the hotel group to be lead developer and to also manage the completed hotel and museum.
21c Museum Hotel officials began visiting Oklahoma City officials last month to request a mix of public financing needed to make the project a reality. Some of the assistance, tax increment financing, historic tax credits and new market tax credits, are similar to funding providing for the renovation of the Skirvin Hilton Hotel in 2006.