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Park and go

Through eminent domain, Oklahoma City seeks to acquire a plot needed for the downtown park.

Clifton Adcock April 6th, 2011

As the city continues to purchase land located in the upper portion of what will be the MAPS 3 downtown park, it is also in the process of an eminent domain case against the landowner of a key piece of property in that area.

The city already owns eight parcels of land in the 40-acre upper park area, which is located between what will be the boulevard and the future Interstate 40 and between South Hudson and South Robinson avenues.

The city has also made offers on 11 other parcels of land within the park area, and all landowners within that area have been notified of the city’s plans, said MAPS Program Manager Eric Wenger.

The city is hoping that all of the land within the upper park area will be acquired this year, Wenger said, and there are 29 parcels of land to be acquired under the MAPS 3 project.

above A rooftop view looking eastward shows the planned landing location for the SkyDance Bridge.

We did file because it’s one of the parcels required for construction of the SkyDance Bridge.

—Eric Wenger

Acquisition of land in the 30-acre lower park area, which will be south of the new I-40 alignment, will not begin until 2014, Wenger said.

Many of the landowners and businesses in that area have been notified of the city’s plans in order to give them time to prepare for relocation, Wenger said.

The parcel currently going through condemnation hearings, the process in which eminent domain is carried out, sits east of Union Station and just north of the future I-40 corridor. The property is important, city officials said, because it is the landing location for SkyDance Bridge, an iconic pedestrian bridge that will cross over the interstate.

The bridge, estimated to cost more than $12 million, will link the lower park and upper park, and is estimated to span 440 feet and tower 185 feet at its highest point above the ground.

Because the bridge is expected to be completed this year, the city filed a civil suit on Jan. 21 to condemn the land in order to keep the schedule, Wenger said. The I-40 realignment completion is scheduled for 2012.

The suit against landowner Houshmand Saidi seeks condemnation of the .48-acre property located at 814 S. Harvey Ave.

Saidi said the property has a mechanic shop on it, and that he is still in negotiations with the city, but would not comment further on the matter.

Judge Barbara Swinton is the judge assigned to the case.

The lawsuit states that the city made an offer to purchase the land, but it was not accepted by Saidi, and a motion has been filed to appoint three independent commissioners to appraise the land.

The suit cites City Council resolutions passed on Sept. 23, 2008, and Aug. 31, 2010, by the City Council as authority for the condemnation, and the purpose of attempting to acquire the land is for the “MAPS 3 Downtown Public Park and the Oklahoma City SkyDance Bridge.”

However, despite the lawsuit, the city is still negotiating with Saidi to purchase the property, both Wenger and Saidi said.

“We did file because it’s one of the parcels required for construction of the SkyDance Bridge,” Wenger said. “To protect our schedule, we filed the condemnation because there’s a process that has to go through, but we’re still actively negotiating with the property owner.”

The upper park is expected to be completed by late 2014, according to a preliminary timeline from the city’s MAPS 3 program consultant Architectural Design Group.

Land in the lower park area is expected to be completed by mid- 2016, and that section of the park should be completed by early 2019, according to the timeline.

However, that schedule is not finalized and could change, ADG stated.

There is approximately $130 million budgeted in the MAPS 3 program for the park.

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