OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma City's iconic Gold Dome has been sold to the highest bidder, but the former owner still owes the city a million dollars.
The city loaned Dr. Irene Lam, $1,018,000 from of a federal community block grant to help her buy the building. She never paid that money back and has now lost the property to foreclosure.
The Gold Dome, on corner of 23rd and Classen, is an Oklahoma City Icon and historical landmark. Ten years ago, threats to tear the building down brought public outcry and protests. That's when Dr. Lam said she would save the building. She took out a loan from the bank and asked the city for another million.
"It was to basically preserve the building to provide an opportunity for a new, more supportive property owner to find a use for the building," said Russell Claus, the Planning Director for the City of Oklahoma City.
But Claus says Lam never paid anything on the principal and currently owes the city $1,018,000.
The Gold Dome was auctioned off Thursday and sold for $800k, $772k of which goes go the Bank who holds the first mortgage. The city should receive the remaining $28,000, but Lam still owes them $990k.
"We are out that currently," said Claus.
Claus says city attorneys are now deciding how to proceed with collecting the money that was secured by a personal guarantee. The money was not taken out of the general fund, but instead federal community development grant money used for economic development projects.
The new owner of the building, David Box, says he doesn't intend to tear the building down. So Claus says in that regard the city was successful in keeping the icon safe.
"There's a civic role in the protection of iconic buildings and sometimes those don't equate with a balance sheet," Claus said.
Lam wouldn't comment on how she plans on paying back the loan to the city, but she told News 9 she "thanks the people of Oklahoma City for helping her keep the icon going for nine years".