Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

City Would Lease Portion of Center from State Fund

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

City Would Lease Portion of Center from State Fund

Article excerpt

By Betty Jane Harvey

Journal Record Staff Reporter

Though a bill that could prevent the State Insurance Fund from buying the historic First National Center is pending in the Oklahoma Legislature, the purchase does have the support of the City of Oklahoma City.

Three items relating to the State Insurance Fund's attempt to negotiate purchase of two-thirds of the building at 120 N. Robinson Ave. were approved unanimously and without discussion during the Oklahoma City Council meeting Tuesday.

The State Insurance Fund is a quasi-state workers compensation insurance agency that writes more than half the workers compensation business in Oklahoma.

On April 6, the fund's board of managers voted to proceed with negotiations to purchase part of the building, including the parking garage for $5 million. Renovations are estimated to be another $13 to $14 million. Promoters claim the return on the investment for the state fund would exceed 10 percent.

"The First National Center is a significant building in downtown Oklahoma City, and renovation and continued occupancy is very important to the entire central Oklahoma area. The city should strongly support the purchase, renovation and operation of the First National Center by the Oklahoma State Insurance Fund," according to a resolution approved by the Oklahoma City Council, acting as the Oklahoma City Public Property Authority.

Plans call for the state fund to buy 626,000 square feet of the center complex. The fund would occupy 150,000 square feet, and the remainder would be leased to private tenants and to state agencies. State agencies would be offered a bargain lease rate of $8 per square foot.

Senate Bill 580, authored by Sen. Darryl Roberts, D-Ardmore, and Rep. Loyd Benson, D-Frederick, would forbid the fund from investing in real estate without legislative approval. The bill has been passed by the Senate, and the House Rules Committee approved it by a voice vote. It is pending consideration by the full House of Representatives.

State fund Commissioner Michael Clingman brought the fund's board of managers up to date on the city and state agendas during a meeting Tuesday. …

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