Tulsa City Council Critical Of Land Swap With Tulsa Opera

Tuesday, August 17th 2010, 12:36 pm
By: News On 6

By Emory Bryan, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- The Tulsa City Council is not ready to approve a land swap deal between the City and the Tulsa Opera.

The Tulsa Opera owns 16 acres of land adjacent to Tulsa International Airport and wants to swap the land for Tulsa's former Fire Department Headquarters at 400 South Frankfort.

The City land was appraised for $675,000. The Opera land was appraised at $275,000. Several City Councilors were critical of the plan because of the difference in appraised value between the two properties.

Councilor Bill Christiansen said it was time for the City to take advantage of rising property values downtown and not sell the property at a loss.

"When does the ledger shift to the taxpayer?" said Councilor Bill Christiansen, who said the taxpayer financed improvements downtown should eventually pay some dividends.

Councilor Jack Henderson disagreed.

"We need to bite the bullet. There's nobody knocking the doors down to get that land," said Henderson.

Economic Development Director Mike Bunney urged the councilors to consider the added value of redeveloping a piece of land that has sat unused for years. Bunney said, "I'm really asking the council to consider kicking over a domino" to redevelop the east side of downtown. He compared having the Opera locate downtown with other downtown development centers that spurred activity around them.

In light of the council comments, Bunney said rather than proceed with drafting an agreement to make the swap, he would return to council with another proposal, possibly to transfer the land to the Tulsa Economic Development Authority.