Progress Moving Forward At American Indian Cultural Center & Museum
OKLAHOMA CITY - Almost four and a half years since construction stopped on the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum, and efforts to get the $170 million project completed are quietly moving forward.
Earlier this year, through legislation passed during the 2015 session, the state handed off the long-suffering project to the city of Oklahoma City and a partner, the Chickasaw Nation. The Chickasaws had stepped in at the last minute, offering to provide financial support for the project and also operate the tourist facility, once completed, in return for being allowed to develop the property around the center.
Representatives of the city, the Chickasaw Nation, and the Native American Cultural and Educational Authority (NACEA) all confirmed, through phone calls today, that the discussions to finalize the development deal are going well. City and tribal officials say, at the moment, the Chickasaws are trying to complete the title work for the site.
There is general agreement among the parties that these details should get taken care of and that construction will resume sometime in 2017. At this point, however, no one would speculate as to a more specific time frame for work at the site to restart.
The AICCM project dates back to 1994 when lawmakers created NACEA, the state agency charged with overseeing its design and construction. Funding has always been a problem for the project, and construction didn't actually begin until 2006. All work was halted in the summer of 2012, when lawmakers, many of them critical of the project's management and growing cost, failed to approve additional funding to keep it going.
Up until Governor Fallin helped push through the legislation in 2015, which essentially made the project someone else's responsibility, there was serious debate about leaving it unfinished, or even demolishing it.
To date, $90 million has spent on the facility -- most of that in state construction bonds -- and it's estimated it will take an additional $80 million to complete it. Under the plan being finalized, $25 million of remaining costs would come from the state, $9 million from the city, $31 million from private donors, and $15 million from the Chickasaw Nation.
The Chickasaws have also said, for the first seven years of the Center's operation, they would spend $2 million to cover operating losses.