OKC City Council approves $200M for upscale apartment towers in Lower Bricktown
admin / August 2023
The Boardwalk at Bricktown Apartments Coming Soon
This rendering offers a view of The Boardwalk from Reno Avenue.
A record amount of tax increment financing was approved for an upscale, multi-tower apartment development in Oklahoma City’s Bricktown Tuesday.
The Boardwalk at Bricktown will have 924 apartment units, 80,000 square feet of retail, restaurants and entertainment, and two parking garages on the northwest corner of Reno and Oklahoma avenues. It will take the place of what is now a parking lot west of the U-Haul building in Bricktown. There is also a Hyatt Dream Hotel being built on the property that is not included in the tax increment financing agreement.
The Oklahoma City Council approved the financing in a 7-to-2 vote, with city Councilmembers James Cooper and JoBeth Hamon voting against, citing concerns about the affordable housing units that are part of the proposal.
According to the proposal, 132 units could be leased by the Arizona-based nonprofit Aspiring Anew Generation, which would subsidize the rents for low-income residents. But the agency has come under fire for questions of fraud, and Cooper and Hamon both said it has no track record of providing affordable housing and workforce training.
The Boardwalk at Bricktown, featuring apartment towers and a Hyatt Dream Hotel, is proposed for the site where a parking lot sits west of the U-Haul building.
“Working a lot with the local service agencies and nonprofit community, it’s a tad insulting that this group from out of state is able to come to us and not really present any outcomes or data about the work they do,” Hamon said.
Meanwhile, she said she believes local nonprofit agencies seeking a fraction of the amount of money approved Tuesday are put through more rigorous processes and required to present evidence that their models work.
And despite its place in the developer’s proposal, Hamon said there is no guarantee the affordable units will come to fruition.
“My main contention with most of these deals is that we don’t have a requirement for affordability and mixed-income as part of these projects,” Hamon said. “It’s very nice to hear that a private developer is interested in partnering with a nonprofit entity to do this sort of work. But there’s still nothing tying them to require them to do that. If they decided in two years … that they wanted to scrap all of those ideas and just do something completely different, they could do that.”
The Boardwalk site plans
Scot Matteson, CEO of Matteson Capital, is working with Lower Bricktown developer Randy Hogan to build The Boardwalk at Bricktown. Matteson said he’s “excited” the record $200 million in TIF dollars was approved Tuesday for the project, which will include two twin 28-story apartment towers and a third tower will be built when the first two are leased.
“We couldn’t do it without (the tax increment financing),” Matteson said.
Matteson said Aspiring Anew would be a tenant just like the restaurants and retail businesses coming to the project. Conversations are still in the early phases with the nonprofit, and Matteson said while there is no requirement for the affordable housing component, it’s something they plan on following through on.
“Our plan is to do workforce housing,” Matteson said. “We think it’s a nice thing to bring to the community.”
Fraud concerns around Arizona nonprofit Aspiring Anew Generation
The nonprofit agency, founded by Jessica Stanford, is battling questions of fraud after a for-profit clinic operated by Stanford under the same name in June was added to a list of Arizona agencies whose Medicaid payments had been suspended.
At issue is whether the suspension is linked to an investigation into agencies accused of overbilling the state of Arizona for services not done or done properly while collecting Medicaid payments on clients’ behalf. Stanford argues her for-profit clinic had Medicaid payments suspended due to billing questions unrelated to the fraud investigation.
Aspiring Anew, the for-profit, showed evidence to The Oklahoman showing its license was still active.
Joanne Carras, CFO of Aspiring Anew Generation and also a financial adviser to Matteson Capital, said the subsidized apartments and workforce development center will include caseworkers and addiction counselors, job training and personal finance education.
Rent for the subsidized apartments will range from nothing for clients starting out to $1,834 a month for a two-bedroom apartment. In comparison, the remainder of the 900 apartments will have an estimated average monthly market rent of $2,783 based on amounts being charged at First National Center and properties in cities like Houston.
“The goal is to get them to the $1,800, which is a workforce housing HUD number so they can live a sustainable life,” Carras said. “It’s a two-year on-site in-home program. They can avail themselves of as many resources as is offered at the Workforce Development Center. We’re going to team up with as many people as possible within the development to help on job skills.”
When will the Bricktown apartment towers be built?
Matteson said the next step is finalizing design work and he hopes to begin construction next year starting with underground parking and a retail podium building that will then be topped with two towers.
The hotel, construction of which would start soon after the towers, would connect to the apartment towers by a sky bridge. A third tower would be built based on leasing success of the first two towers, with the developer saying in a “worst case scenario” the project would be completed within six years.
Matteson’s development experience dates back 40 years with projects that included The Residences at Little Nell and other residential projects in Aspen, Colorado; the Icon Hotel in Houston, Texas; the Sapphire Tower developments in San Diego, California, and Miami, Florida; and a 5,000-acre master plan in Tuscany, Italy, that included a hotel, villas, a winery and culinary school.
Matteson said Lower Bricktown, the nearby Paycom Center and Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark reminded him of L.A. Live, a Los Angeles entertainment district cited by Hogan as an inspiration for his development when it started 20 years ago.
“I felt this had a lot of similarities, and this is an underserved market,” Matteson said.
The deal is structured so that no increment financing will be paid until after the project is built and property tax has been paid.
Joanna McSpadden, the city’s economic development programs manager, said the developer would get back 90% of annual property taxes after they are paid to the county.
The developer also is receiving $5.5 million in construction-related use tax increment that would require submission of invoices to be reviewed by the city.
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