MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

July 6, 2014

Haskell Building sale proceeds

Officials optimistic despite request by prospective buyer for time

Details are continuing to be worked out in the planned purchase of the historic Charles Haskell Building by a Tulsa developer.

The sale of the pre-Depression-era Muskogee skyscraper was expected to close by mid-July. The closing date, however, could be delayed as the seller and buyer work through some final details.

“We haven’t heard anything that would lead us to believe this sale won’t go through,” said John Estes, a spokesman for the Oklahoma Office of Management and Enterprise Services. “Things are just moving a little slower than usual, but that’s the way it is sometimes with real estate.”

The downtown Muskogee building, which most recently served as a satellite campus for Connors State College, was sold by the state by sealed bid. Mark Larson, doing business as East End Village LLC, submitted the sole bid of $346,500, or 90 percent of the building’s appraised value and the minimum amount acceptable by state law.

Ami Maddocks, director of college and community relations at Connors, confirmed the ongoing discussions with Larson and his team. The prospective buyers, she said, have requested additional time before closing.

“The developers requested a 90-day extension on the closing period, but we believe everything is still in line for the completion of the sale,” Maddocks said. “The developers have been working with the city of Muskogee to develop strategies moving forward.”

Attempts to contact the developers last week were unsuccessful. But Brad Skaggs, a spokesman for Larson and East End Village, confirmed in late May they were meeting with Ryan Blanton, executive director of Connors State College Development Foundation, and city officials about development opportunities.

The Haskell Building, at Second and Court streets, has stood vacant since December 2011, when Connors State College moved out of the downtown area. The property, which is owned by the state, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Railway Exchange Building.

The Railway Exchange Building, which at one time was owned by the city of Muskogee, reportedly housed the Veterans Affairs Regional Office un til it moved out in April 1976.

The city subsequently conveyed title to the state, and Connors State College began using the building as a satellite campus in Muskogee.

Appraisers set the value of the 1910-era building, which has 61,172 square feet of finished space, at $385,000. The building, which also has an unfinished basement and two-story penthouse, was considered by appraisers to be in fair to average condition.

After the bid was awarded to Larson in May, Skaggs said their plans for the building included some sort of residential development that would complement the vision of a downtown revival in Muskogee.

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

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