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Oklahoma City seeks to condemn, acquire Santa Fe train depot in $21 million dispute

by Steve Lackmeyer Modified: May 28, 2013 at 11:49 pm •  Published: May 29, 2013

Oklahoma City thinks downtown's Santa Fe train depot is worth $2.5 million. The owners, Brent and Brett Brewer, think it's worth $23.5 million.

Neither side is budging, so the city is going to court to force the dispute into eminent domain to turn the depot into a transit hub for a new $128 million streetcar system.

Twenty years ago, the depot stood abandoned and dilapidated with no eager takers when the Brewers' father, the late Jim Brewer, entered into a yearslong purchase negotiation with the BNSF Railway.

By time the $375,000 sale was completed in 1998, Amtrak was set to restore passenger rail service, and the state Transportation Department paid for half of the depot's $2 million renovation to get it open in time for the Heartland Flyer's 1999 debut.

The city presented its $2.5 million offer, backed by a professional appraisal, in October. The Brewers waited until January before making their $23.5 million counter-offer. That led to an eminent domain filing by the city against the Brewers earlier this month.

“We received the counter-offer from them and we asked for an appraisal from them to see if we could make another offer to them,” said Urban Renewal director Cathy O'Connor. “We never received it.”

Brent Brewer was unavailable for comment. In March he told The Oklahoman his appraisal was “pretty close” to being done. He said the appraisal was complicated due to the property's uniqueness.

“They're the ones who seem to want to move fast,” Brewer said of city officials.

O'Connor at that time said she had yet to hear updates on the Brewers' appraisal in response to calls and emails placed to the Brewers and their attorney since January.

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by Steve Lackmeyer
Business Reporter
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter, columnist and author who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's...
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