OKC, OG&E Negotiating Land Trade Along The Oklahoma River

Tuesday, June 21st 2016, 6:57 pm
By: Karl Torp

The City has reached a deal to relocate the old downtown OG&E substation at SW 5 Street and Robinson Avenue.

The property is where the MAPS 3 convention center will eventually sit.

The City had $30 million budgeted to remove the substation and rebuild it elsewhere.

On Tuesday, the Alliance for Economic Development announced it can do the job for just over $29 million because it will have to acquire new land for the relocation.

Instead, the substation will go at 900 S Santa Fe, the site of the City’s river yard storage area.

The 17.4 acres are wedged between an auto salvage yard and the Oklahoma River.

“Seventeen acres of land along the river looks pretty valuable,” Oklahoma City Councilman Pete White said.

White questions why the cost of the river yard was never determined. He thinks it should be added to the overall cost of the convention center project.

“This is the only case I know that we didn’t appraise the value of the land in the transaction. It’s riverfront property. We just don’t know how much its worth, but we are giving away 17.4 acres in the transaction,” Oklahoma City Councilman Ed Shadid said.

The Alliance for Economic Development of OKC President Cathy O’Connor said the river yard site is not attractive to developers because there’s limited access and it’s in a flood plain.

“You need to build it up out of the flood plan and OG&E may have to do that,” said O’Connor.

O'Connor said the new substation site has to still be close to downtown.

That property at SW 5 Street and Robinson Avenue is very valuable to the city and the MAPS 3 convention center, O'Connor said.

The City Council unanimously voted through the transaction, but both councilmen Shadid and White said the value of the river yard should be determined, so the true cost of the MAPS convention center is known to taxpayers.

“It may not be land that is easily accessible or developable, but it’s in a prime location,” White said.

After this latest transaction, the Alliance for Economic Development told News 9, the city has acquired about 85 percent of the land needed for a new convention center.