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Oklahoma City’s First National Center saga either continues, or starts new chapter

Oklahoma City landmark First National Center’s mortgage extension is set to expire at 5 p.m. today. Business writer Steve Lackmeyer considers the possibilities and implications of foreclosure or more extensions.

BY STEVE LACKMEYER Published: August 28, 2012
/articleid/3704780/1/pictures/1810809">Photo - The First National Center, 120 N Robinson, in downtown Oklahoma City is shown.  Photo By Paul B. Southerland, The Oklahoman
The First National Center, 120 N Robinson, in downtown Oklahoma City is shown. Photo By Paul B. Southerland, The Oklahoman

Even after the building went into foreclosure and then bankruptcy, Yashouafar denied he paid too much for First National. But if it were really still worth $21 million, why is it so difficult to find $12 million in financing to pay off the greatly discounted loan?

More questions arise as this drama continues. Yashouafar this summer pleaded guilty to felony embezzlement charges related to a senior-housing complex in Nevada. He faces up to 10 years in prison and must pay $1 million in restitution.

Capmark Group did not face any public scrutiny when it lent $21 million for a property that locals valued at no more than $8 million. A lender that might give money to an admitted felon for a property, still deemed by some as being overvalued at $12 million, might face questioning by locals and investors alike.

At least four significant investment groups are awaiting the close of business today and hope that Capmark’s extensions are over and that the property goes into receivership Wednesday morning. Should Yashouafar prevail, the questions shift to the future of First National Center: how will he afford to invest the money necessary to turn it around after two decades of turmoil? How will the bills get paid when the tenant paying half of the property’s rental revenue, Devon Energy Corp., ends its lease next year? What will be the building’s fate if Yashouafar goes to prison? Locals are paying attention and they don’t like what they’re seeing.

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