MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

September 24, 2013

Council turns to proposed land deal

Discussion addresses financing options

City councilors advanced plans Monday to buy county-owned land at a busy intersection in northwestern Muskogee after details of a proposed land swap were worked out.

A survey of three of the four corners at the U.S. 69 and Shawnee Bypass intersection revealed that the county owns parcels totaling 29.3 acres. The land, which the county acquired during the mid-1950s by eminent domain, is considered attractive for commercial development.

To get to that point, city officials have been working to clear up title problems, which includes the consolidation of a patchwork of parcels. Interim City Manager Roy Tucker said a deal has been struck with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation to convey some of the land the city plans to buy from the county for ODOT rights of way in exchange for parcels owned by the transportation agency.

Tucker said that once the county-owned land is acquired — a proposal county commissioners have indicated a willingness to accept — and the land swap with ODOT is completed, the city will have 18.38 acres available to sell for commercial development. The acreage would consist of three tracts on the northwest, northeast and southeast corners.

“It looks like we are giving ODOT more than what we are getting, but that property includes rights of way that can never be developed,” Tucker said.

“The land we will be getting can be developed and as a result can generate tax revenue and promote further development.”

Councilors questioned the proposed financing options at the City Council meeting on Monday night. Tucker said initial conversations with the City of Muskogee Foundation’s economic development committee showed that it appeared willing to finance the deal by issuing a five-year, interest-only note at 2.5 percent interest with the principal due at the end of the term.

“Proceeds from the sale of any property (for development) would be used to pay down the principal,” Tucker said. “Before we can make an offer (to county commissioners) we would have to have the financing approved.”

Deputy Mayor David Jones and Ward IV Councilor Kenny Payne wanted assurances that if the county-owned land was purchased there would be an active campaign to sell it for development.

Tucker, who also said efforts are being made to confirm the findings of the city’s survey and investigate any environmental issues, assured them that is part of the plan.

The prospect of developing the intersection has produced a lot of activity during the past year. County commissioners sold a six-acre tract on the southwest corner of the  intersection to the Muskogee Redevelopment Authority. That corner is under contract with QuikTrip Corp., but officials with the Tulsa company have requested additional time to work through some issues before closing the deal.

County commissioners agreed to accept an offer to buy the remaining property it owns at the intersection with terms similar to the sale that closed earlier this month. The city bought the southwest corner for 80 percent of its appraised value of $4 per square foot, or more than $1.03 million, and the city bought it for $826,596.

With the 20 percent discount allowed for the March transaction, acquiring the county’s remaining 29.3 acres on the northwest, northeast and southeast corners would put almost $4.09 million into county coffers. City councilors authorized Tucker to move forward with plans to buy the county-owned land on the remaining three corners at that price.

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

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