Getting ready for a downtown Tulsa arena

Tuesday, August 3rd 2004, 10:39 am
By: News On 6

Condemnations start as the city of Tulsa begins to make room for the new arena downtown.

The city has reached deals with most of the property owners, but two are holding out. News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan says the arena site covers 4 blocks and the land is owned by 19 different people.

Most of them either have deals - or continue to negotiate with the city. It looks like a couple of them will have to go to court.

Peggy Jones just can't believe it. She's about to be forced out of the only job she's ever had. Peggy is the owner of the Denver Grill: “It's just home to me." The Denver Grill hasn't moved from the spot where it opened in 1933. The city wants to bulldoze it for the new arena - and started the condemnation against it Tuesday.

Jones says the city offered just $175,000 for a business she's spent a lifetime building. “I don't want a lot of money, I just want to go out and be able to keep doing what I've doing."

Only one other property owner is holding out - the owner of a warehouse on 3rd Street. City of Tulsa’s Mike Buchart: “We want to continue negotiations, we hope to reach an agreement, but we're far enough apart we decided to start the process of taking these properties."

Buchart says the county budgeted $10-million to buy the arena property. He hopes the bulldozers can start work in September - about the time the first drawings of the arena plans come out. "Having 17 of the 19 property owners -- normally do about 50% of condemnations versus negotiations.”

Condemnation takes at least 60 days - so the city is starting the process in case they can't reach a deal. Under condemnation a judge takes 3 appraisals of the property - and decides on a price.

Jones’ son in law, Steve McGrew, is helping her deal with the condemnation. He says they don't want to stop progress but they do want a fair deal. They're disappointed the city plans to condemn the land. "If you didn't take the first offer that's the response you get."