, Muskogee, OK

August 31, 2013

City eyes Shawnee/69 land deal

Earlier deal not yet closed; new plan for purchase of other corners

By D.E. Smoot
Phoenix Staff Writer

— City officials have yet to close a land deal approved in March involving property QuikTrip plans to develop in northwest Muskogee.

But they are eyeing the possibility of acquiring other county-owned property at the U.S. 69 and Shawnee Bypass intersection. County commissioners will consider on Tuesday a request submitted by the city indicating its interest in buying property at all three remaining corners of the intersection.

Interim City Manager Roy Tucker said the request is the first of several steps that must be taken before a final deal is struck. The request commissioners are being asked to consider Tuesday, Tucker said, is just an inquiry to see whether there is any interest in selling that property.

“If there is an interest, they would have to consider a resolution to dispose of that property, then we would have to find a funding source,” Tucker said. “I think anything that might happen would be contingent upon how much that property is going to cost.”

County Commission Chairman Stephen Wright, District 2, said he is “pretty open-minded” about the possibility of selling property to the city if it’s going to spur economic development at that northwest Muskogee intersection.

“I’ve got no desire to be in the real estate business,” Wright said about marketing county-owned property for future development. “If we can get those (parcels) back on the tax rolls, everybody would be better off on that deal.”

Wright said the county owns most of the land on all four corners of the U.S. 69 and Shawnee Bypass intersection, much of it acquired by eminent domain. City and county officials executed a contract in March for the conveyance of a six-acre tract on the southwest corner that presently is under contract with Tulsa-based QuikTrip.

Upon closing the first of two sales contracts executed for the conveyance of the six-acre tract, the city will pay the county $826,596 — that’s about 80 percent of its $1.03 million appraised value. The Muskogee Redevelopment Authority executed a second contract with QuikTrip, which agreed to buy the land at cost plus transactional expenses up to $15,000.

Tucker said he expects the city’s acquisition of the six-acre tract will be ready to close in about two weeks. The city’s contract with QuikTrip, which plans to build a travel center at the location, was extended in July for 90 days to give the company additional time for inspection.

A second amendment to the QuikTrip contract gives the company an opportunity to further extend the inspection period up to six months on a month-by-month basis. Each request for an extension, which must be based upon the company’s inability to obtain approval for the desired curb cuts and modification of Corps maps, would cost QuikTrip an extra $2,000 a month.

Tucker said one reason the city wants to move forward with the possible acquisition of land on the remaining three corners of the busy intersection is to resolve problems that have slowed the QuikTrip transaction. Those hurdles have included rights of way issues with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and Clean Water Act issues with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“I think the plan all along has been to acquire the property at that intersection through the Redevelopment Authority,” Tucker said, noting there are no particular parties interested in the property. “We would like to get them ready so we don’t run into any problems like we are having now with the QuikTrip property.”

City and county officials have expressed optimism that once QuikTrip develops the southwest corner, development at the other three corners will follow quickly. Tucker said the inquiry county commissioners will consider Tuesday is advance preparation for that possibility.

Wright said if commissioners support a plan to sell the county-owned property at that intersection to the city, they would have to repeat the process undertaken prior to the conveyance of the six-acre tract. That would include having the parcels appraised, then negotiating a price.

Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or