Tulsa Development Authority ends negotiations on project in proposed ballpark area
BY Brian Barber World Staff Writer
Thursday, August 07, 2008
6/30/09 at 3:44 PM
The Tulsa Development Authority on Thursday terminated an exclusive negotiating period with a developer for land that now falls within the proposed downtown ballpark master plan.
The expected action has generated controversy over the past two weeks, with developer Will Wilkins of Novus Homes LLC accusing the authority and Mayor Kathy Taylor’s administration of unfair practices.
Wilkins said he spent more than $15,000 coming up with a mixed-use project for the half-block parcel along the west side of Elgin Avenue between Brady and Archer streets when no one else was interested.
But authority members said they can’t continue negotiations or even think about entering into a contract now that the area is in such transition.
“I’m not bound by politics,” TDA Chairman Carl Bracy said. “I’m bound by doing what’s best for the city.”
TDA Vice Chairman George Shahadi said, “Circumstances have changed that clearly warrant a re-evaluation of the property and its future development.”
Shahadi also noted that the money Wilkins had spent is part of the risk of the real estate business.
Following the decision, Wilkins said he will explore his legal options.
“Obviously I’m disappointed to have been treated like this,” he said.
Before the vote, an emotional Taylor said she wants the bickering to stop.
“What’s happening in our city right now is an attempt at the destruction of each other instead of lifting each other up,” said the mayor, who was near tears.
Everyone interested in downtown revitalization should have a seat at the table, Taylor said. But the future development around the ballpark site has to amount to “a beautifully woven fabric.”
Taylor expressed disappointment with what surrounds the new BOK Center, citing the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office and Storey Wrecker.
With the proposed ballpark, “the time to address this is now,” she said.
Novus entered into negotiations with the TDA in January to pursue a development called 120 Brady Village on the parcel that is owned by the authority, which is the real estate arm of the city.
TDA officials had approached Novus about the property after previous development efforts had fallen through.