MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

February 19, 2013

Foundation to loan city authority funds for property

Redevelopment Authority to buy parcel at US 69 and Shawnee

By Wendy Burton
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Officials hope the property at U.S. 69 and Shawnee Bypass will soon sell, allowing the Muskogee Redevelopment Authority to repay its $1.1 million loan.

The City of Muskogee Foundation voted Monday to loan the Muskogee Redevelopment Authority the money to purchase property from the county located at U.S. 69 and Shawnee Bypass.

Chair of the Foundation’s Economic Development Committee Jay Updike said the committee recommended the Foundation approve the loan.

“We feel like it’s a prime spot,” Updike said at the Board of Directors meeting Monday. “There’s a lot of interest there, and it will give the city the opportunity to make it a profitable venture.”

The property is 5.93 acres, located on the southwest corner of the intersection. The loan will be held at 2 3/4 percent annual interest for five years.

The Muskogee Redevelopment Authority, made up of city councilors, is able to incur debt, including buying, leasing or selling property, said City Attorney Roy Tucker.

Foundation board members City Manager Greg Buckley, City Councilor James Gulley and Mayor Bob Coburn abstained from the vote. All others in attendance voted yes.

The loan can be paid off early if the property sells before then, said the Foundation’s Executive Director Frank Merrick.

Darrell Hamby, a member of the Foundation’s Board of Directors, said the county was deeded the property in the 1950s when a plan was to put a cloverleaf in that location.

District 1 County Commissioner Gene Wallace said, according to Oklahoma Statutes, the county is required to follow a process in order to dispose of the property.

“We have to declare it surplus, which we’ve done, and we have to have it appraised, which we’ve done,” Wallace said. “Now, if we have an offer, we’ll follow our legal counsel’s instructions and ultimately make a decision to sell it based on the appraisal.”

Wallace said the county is interested in disposing of the property.

“The bottom line is the county does not want to be in the position of owning property,” he said.

Wallace said this is the second or third time an inquiry has been made about the property, and the county has researched the ways it can legally dispose of the property.

“Auction is one of the methods,” he said. “The other statute that we read a couple of weeks ago says we can sell directly to the city or another unit of government.”

Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or wburton@muskogeephoenix.com.