Nichols Hills considers Chesapeake building swap

Wednesday, July 30th 2008, 11:15 pm
By: News 9

By Rusty Surette, NEWS 9

NICHOLS HILLS, Okla. -- Chesapeake Energy is looking for more land for its sprawling northwest Oklahoma City office complex.

After buying businesses, restaurants and gas stations, Chesapeake is now considering swapping the Christian Scientist Church in Nichols Hills for the Nichols Hills' city hall building.

The city council and citizens gathered Wednesday to discuss city hall's future and whether or not it should make a deal with Chesapeake, who would likely tear the building down to make way for another multi-story building.

Following months of discussions and debate, a committee concluded that moving out of city hall and into the church would be the best choice financially.

In its report, the relocation committee listed 12 reasons for why the city should move out of its current building.

The biggest motivating factor was the existing town hall is inadequate for present and future purposes. The council must now approve the relocation, but the final choice could come from voters who will be asked to fund the move along with renovations.

"It's more than just exchanging land," said Vice Mayor Peter Hoffman. "It's going to be a $10 million to $11 million cost to the community."

There was concern at the meeting about the cost and the lack of designs and details for the new city hall, but the mayor and council promised more information soon.

The city also plans to relocate the police and fire departments to the church. The city council plans to host another public hearing in the next few months.