MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

September 8, 2013

County open to sale of intersection land

Commissioners say they could use assessed value of parcel city bought

County commissioners appear willing to sell to the city of Muskogee all of the county’s interest in property that taxpayers own at U.S. 69 and Shawnee Bypass.

Any deal that might be made likely would include terms just as favorable as those approved in March for property that QuikTrip Corp. officials are eying for development. Commissioners sold a six-acre tract on the southwest corner of the busy intersection to the Muskogee Redevelopment Authority for 80 percent of its appraised value.

District 1 Commissioner Gene Wallace said he would be willing to strike a similar deal, basing the purchase price on an appraisal of the six-acre tract completed in January. Court-appointed appraisers set the value of that property at $4 a square foot, or more than $1.03 million. The city bought it for $826,596.

District Attorney Larry Moore, who represents the Muskogee County Board of Commissioners, said there is no legal reason that would prevent an arrangement such as the one described by Wallace.

“Yes, you can use that (appraisal) and this is why: It would be a transfer from one government entity to another,” Moore said in response to Wallace’s inquiry. “If you were going to sell it to a private entity, then, yes, you would have to get a new appraisal.”

With that question answered, Wallace asked his colleagues whether they should put the county-owned property up for public bid or let the city deal with adjacent property owners and developers.

“All we are trying to do is stay out of the land business,” Wallace said, echoing comments made a week ago by District 2 Commissioner Stephen Wright. “I think the appraisal for the southwest corner is fair.”

City and county officials have expressed optimism that once QuikTrip develops the southwest corner, development at the other three corners will follow quickly. The city’s inquiry about the possibility of buying all the county-owned property at the intersection has been described as preparation for that possibility.

Mayor Bob Coburn said there has been some preliminary discussions with the City of Muskogee Foundation about possible financing for any purchases from the county. The foundation issued a $1.1 million five-year note to the Muskogee Redevelopment Authority to finance the purchase of the tract on the southwest corner.

Wallace said any deal that might be made would have to begin with city officials tendering a written offer to buy. Moore said that before that can happen, the city will have to complete its purchase of the six-acre tract.

That sentiment was shared by District 3 Commissioner Dexter Payne, who put it more bluntly: “We want our money.”

Interim City Manager Roy Tucker said he expects to close the March deal within the next couple of weeks. He asked commissioners to approve a resolution documenting the sale to satisfy the title examiner.

Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or dsmoot@muskogeephoenix.com.

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