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Oklahoma City's Lincoln Plaza Office Park wants its state tenants back

by Richard Mize Published: April 21, 2012

One more disaster cliche could do Dr. Vinod Gupta in for good — at his nearly vacant Lincoln Plaza Office Park anyway.

So he's trying to nip the nearly two-year losing streak in the bud so everything comes up roses.

Roses, in the form of naming rights and top-line improvements, are what he's willing to extend to all the rain-soaked tenants that left him high and dry, especially the Oklahoma Health Care Authority.

The first disaster cliche was the perfect storm.

The massive hailstorm of May 16, 2010, pummeled a wide swath across the Oklahoma City metro area. It left so much damage that so many out-of-state roofing companies flocked in needing space to lease it improved industrial property stats for a year. The hail wrecked the roof of 45-year-old Lincoln Plaza Office Park, 4545 N Lincoln Blvd.

Then came high water.

With roof repairs hamstrung by the insurance claims process — perhaps by the sheer volume of claims here that spring — heavy rains just less than a month later, on June 14, flooded tens of thousands of square feet of space in the office building. Most of it was space long leased by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority.

Then came salt in the wound.

By summer, the health care authority was vacating the premises, some 150,000 square feet. The state agency walked away despite being in the middle of negotiating a five-year lease extension and significant improvements to the space, including a new boardroom suitable for the governor whenever the chief executive should come calling, said Amil Gupta, the property owner's son, who works in the family real estate business. The owner was considering expanding the building, he said.

Before long, other tenants — also state agencies — were abandoning Lincoln Plaza, invoking a 30-day opt-out clause in all state office lease agreements. Many, including the health care authority, landed at Shepherd Mall.

The office building was “in chaos for two months,” Amil Gupta acknowledged, even as the owner did all he could to deal with the problems. For one period, 18 tractor-trailers loaded with fans and other machinery and huge tubes connecting to the building through doors and broken windows had the place looking like a giant industrial octopus.

Then came more high water: With almost all of his tenants gone, along with their rent, Dr. Gupta, a Los Angeles cardiologist and 20-year real estate investor in Oklahoma City, found himself under water with Wells Fargo, his lender.

A leased building essentially is worth the income it produces. With income slashed, the practical value of Lincoln Plaza Office Park plummeted. Gupta owed more on the loan that the property was worth — more than it was producing in income, at least. He couldn't make the payments and so started trying to work out a deal with his lender.

And most recently came insult to injury: Someone on the lender's special servicing committee, unbeknown to Gupta — and unbeknown to the rest of the committee, Gupta learned — splashed all of his troubles across, a widely followed online real estate auction site, announcing that bids would be taken April 10-12.

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by Richard Mize
Real Estate Editor
Real estate editor Richard Mize has edited The Oklahoman's weekly residential real estate section and covered housing, commercial real estate, construction, development, finance and related business since 1999. From 1989 to 1999, he worked...
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