Four-tower Condo Project to Start in Oklahoma City

Urban Renewal commissioners, faced with selecting a developer for the agency's last large "superblock," gave the nod to proposed $62 million upscale condominium towers this week over a $48 million mixed housing, retail and hotel complex.

The site at NW 13 and Walker, formerly home to the old Mercy hospital, will be developed into four towers, built four- to eight-stories above a 220-space underground garage under a plan submitted by Wiggin Properties, led by Chuck Wiggin. "This is where the work begins," said Wiggin, a veteran Oklahoma City real estate broker whose portfolio includes the 101 Park Avenue building downtown and conversion of the Mayo office building in downtown Tulsa into housing.

Wiggin's proposal for Overholser Green calls for phased construction of the towers over four years, with a total of 109 units selling between $350,000 and $800,000. The proposal requests $3.5 million in tax increment financing (TIF) that must still be approved by a committee representing the city, county, city schools, the library commission and the Career Tech district.

"I know there needs to be some issues worked through during negotiations," Wiggin said. "We're looking forward to moving ahead and continuing market studies and completing financing."

Marva Ellard, a partner in the competing $48.3 million Mercy Park proposal, approached the Urban Renewal board before its meeting and asked for a delay to allow for a review of the TIF requests.

Urban Renewal executive director JoeVan Bullard urged commissioners to proceed with their vote, which was delayed from a February meeting.

"It would be very unusual if either proposal gets all the TIF they are asking for," Bullard said.

Wiggin said after the vote "my eyes are open." He also said he hopes to have construction under way some time in 2008.

Bullard said he thinks the retail proposed by Ellard would be better placed along NW 10, where developer Greg Banta is renovating more than a dozen buildings for retail use, offices and residences. He said the hotel proposed by Ellard also would be better situated closer to St. Anthony Hospital at NW 10 and Walker.

"From a planning land use, the best option for 13th is residential," Bullard said. "You don't want spotty retail along NW 13. You have all of Banta's development on 10th ... Retail next to retail is much more beneficial."

Urban Renewal commissioner Stanton L. Young echoed Bullard's comments, saying Overholser Green was a better match for Heritage Hills, which runs west of NW 13, and that the corridor was historically residential.

"It is now institutional, but it's institutional use that fits into Heritage Hills," Young said. "I was impressed with the townhouses that would be developed at a cost or sales price from $300,000 to over $700,000. That would be the transition between Heritage Hills and MidTown. If there is a demand for apartment housing, and for a hotel, it is somewhere closer connected to St. Anthony Hospital."

Ellard indicated after the vote her project may be built elsewhere in MidTown. "We would probably have to make some modifications based on the site," Ellard said. "But the basic components fit into MidTown and address a need in MidTown. We still very much want to do this project."

Daniel Crane a senior vice president with Plano, Texas-based Capmark, said his company believes in the Mercy Park proposal and remains ready to finance the project at a different MidTown location.

"The need for work force housing for St. Anthony's and the health sciences complex remains," Crane said.