OKC Urban Renewal May Borrow Funds to Finance Property Deals

Article excerpt

The Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority, in an effort to gain control of more land in the city's Flatiron District for redevelopment, said it may borrow money to finance property purchases.

The policy - a shift from previous funding methods in which federal funds were often used to finance acquisitions - would give the authority the ability to take advantage of bank financing for land purchases. The borrowings would likely be repaid with proceeds from the eventual sale of the property the authority acquires.

"This represents a transition for the Urban Renewal Authority," said Leslie V. Batchelor, associate general counsel for the authority. "With cities getting fewer CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) funds, they are going to have to look at new ways to finance acquisitions."

Authority members earlier this year said land in Oklahoma City's Flatiron District and northern Deep Deuce area would be the target of a stepped-up acquisition effort by the authority, which has said the area has become one of its top priorities. The authority, a city body charged with redeveloping depressed areas of the city, wants to influence how the Flatiron area develops.

Targeted for acquisition will be selected properties in an area between NE Second and NE Eighth streets and between railroad tracks on the west and Interstate 235 to the east, said Tiana Douglas, the departing executive director of the authority. Douglas said the authority will primarily focus on vacant land in the district.

The authority's funds available to acquire land for redevelopment are limited, authority members said. …