First National Center sale closes

Exactly one year after Oklahoma developers Gary Brooks and Charlie Nicholas signed a contract to purchase the historic First National Center complex in downtown Oklahoma City, the $23 million sale closed on January 11, 2017. In celebration, the new owners set the long dormant signature lights of the building ablaze at sunset symbolizing its long-anticipated rebirth.

The long-awaited closing was reported in The Oklahoman by business writer Steve Lackmeyer, who has chronicled the art deco building’s 85-year history and the recent failed attempts by multiple out-of-state owners to restore the 33-story skyscraper to its former 1930s glory. According to the article, the new owners will start work this spring as part of their three-year plan to convert the original tower into a hotel, housing and retail complex.

Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett celebrated the closing of the sale at the annual State of the City address on Wednesday, and city officials have expressed their desire to work with the new owners to ensure the redevelopment is a success. Economic development assistance in the form of historic tax credits and tax incrementing financing is expected to be used for the redevelopment project.

McAfee & Taft represented the receiver, Jim Parrack, in the transaction. Parrack was appointed to the role by U.S. District Judge Stephen Friot in 2015 after the property had endured years of turmoil that included ownership disputes and a lack of investment and culminated in utility cut-offs, tenant departures, and the shuttering of the building in 2016. Selection of a buyer/developer, navigation of the legal duties of the receiver, solving complex title problems, and coordinating with six sets of counsel plus Los Angeles bankruptcy counsel are just some of the problems that help explain the duration and difficulty of the sale for redevelopment.