Leading MidTown developer Greg Banta announced Friday he has sold his interests in the emerging entertainment district to partners Bob Howard and Mickey Clagg. Banta, who is credited for turning the once run-down neighborhood into a mix of shops, restaurants, bars and offices, said he has "mixed emotions” about the transaction but is confident the area is poised to continue its revitalization. "Bob Howard and Mickey Clagg have been my partners since the beginning,” Banta said. "They both recognized the opportunities MidTown possessed. They were, and still are, instrumental in its overall vision and will see the redevelopment through to its completion.” Banta said the time was right to leave the partnership and that he has new undisclosed projects he wants to pursue. He added his firm, The Banta Companies, still will remain involved in marketing MidTown and will expand into other areas of downtown.
Partners committedClagg said he and Howard are not yet ready to discuss their long-term plans, but confirmed they remain committed to the MidTown Renaissance development. "We will continue with the vision that Greg started,” Clagg said. "We're going to complete the projects on a mixed-use basis and we want to define each property as to whether it should be residential, commercial or offices.” Banta credited Howard and Clagg with affording him the opportunity to treat the more than 30 aging properties as one master development and gave him time to ensure the renovations were completed properly. "They grasped the vision from the beginning,” Banta said. "When you are dealing with properties that have been vacant for 20 to 50 years, you have to take your time to maintain architectural integrity while enhancing it to accommodate today's modern tenants.” Longtime MidTown observers say Banta's role as lead developer will be missed. "It's a critical time for MidTown,” said Brett Hamm, president of Downtown Oklahoma City Inc. "It's going to take a strong commitment by the investors to continue the momentum Banta started. It will take a strong developer to take the projects through to completion.”
Major contributionMarva Ellard, who is developing MidTown's Sieber Hotel, called Banta's contribution to the district "invaluable.” "I anticipate Mr. Howard and Mr. Clagg will continue the plan they all developed for the area,” Ellard said. "Greg had a lot of enthusiasm and vision for the area, and that will be missed.” Banta said he too anticipates the development will continue, with the next big push along NW 10 and Robinson where MidTown Renaissance properties include Hadden Hall, the old Hotel Kline and a former Packard dealership. All three buildings are in the middle of renovations. "There will be noticeable changes in this area with new tenants being announced in the very near future,” Banta said. "People see what is happening in MidTown and they want to be part of it.”