No one is saying “I told you so,” but there were some Urban Renewal commissioners who clearly realized last week they dodged a bullet when they chose Gary Brooks to develop The Edge apartments in MidTown.
This time last year, the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority faced a quandary when it came to the development of the old Mercy hospital property in MidTown.
The authority had twice entered into agreements with developers for the site, but those plans fell through. Chuck Wiggin, whose effort to build for-sale housing on the site was the latest failure, was among four groups competing to get a new deal to build apartments on the site at NW 13 and Walker.
Some board members clearly wanted to stick with Wiggin and were sympathetic when it came to the amount of money he already had invested into developing the site before the for-sale condominium market collapsed in 2008.
But they didn't want another failure, and Wiggin this time was looking to do an apartment deal with financing from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Wiggin, at the time, had not completed any HUD-financed apartment projects, while his chief competitor, Brooks, had a handful of such deals done or in the works in his real estate portfolio.
As commissioners weighed their decision, they were challenged with the dilemma of determining whether the lack of such experience was a deal killer in getting HUD financing. In the end, they chose Brooks, whose latest report is he believes he is within 90 days of completing the review with HUD and beginning construction on $34 million development.
The “I told you so” did not involve Brooks, Wiggin or anyone involved in the competition to develop the old Mercy site. Instead, it came from a bystander who, much like Wiggin this time last year, hoped his well-respected resume and business plans would be enough to win backing from the housing agency.