Saturday, December 24, 2011

Crazy prediction for 2012: FNC

Steve Lackmeyer has been covering the heck out of the Yashoua-however-you-spell it indictment. The Village Voice, one of the nation's most respected alternative news outlets (think Gazette, but with history) has named Yash one of NYC's worst slumlords. The head honcho of LA-based Milbank Real Estate, and notorious absentee landlord/slumlord of OKC's once-proud First National Center, is looking at some hard prison time that might be well-deserved just for how he's ruined the Arcade level of the FNC. I'd put him in prison and throw away the key just for that (kidding, slightly). He's not an investor; he's a divestor.

The FNC is one of OKC's most iconic buildings. This property can not afford to go through another cycle of these kinds of owners. Something has to be done if we want to rescue this building.

So here it is, my crazy prediction for 2012 (a few days early nonetheless): A local group of investors, it may or may not include some of the usual suspects and/or "Allied" Alliance "Allies," will form together and make a play for ownership of the FNC. The city will get involved and try hard to put together another Skirvin-type deal, it will be difficult simply because Empowerment Zone resources have been spent already and that pot of money won't be replenished until either the Skirvin is totally paid off or it gets sold to a bigger hotel chain. I think the Skirvin is fine the way it is, but I'm also confident that the City can put together some kind of deal here. It may just be a typical TIF that the Alliance is offering up to anyone, and that could work.

But I believe we are getting closer and closer to a local investment group making a play to save the FNC. That's undoubtedly an optimistic prediction, so who knows, but one can certainly hope. As for what we might see, I have no idea. I have to believe that if it's led by local investors (who aren't the MidtownR people) the redevelopment project will be as unimaginative as possible.

Maybe even all office, considering that's back in demand right now, and these people believe that downtown can thrive as 100% office and that even constitutes "mixed-use." Regardless of whatever it becomes, I just hope to see the FNC saved one day. But the Mercantile Building in Downtown Dallas would serve as a smashing mixed-use (condo and hotel) example, and a very similar situation I believe, as well.

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