The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

January 29, 2013

Developer still looking for Homeland tenants

By James Neal, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Plans are moving forward to redevelop the former Homeland building at Oakwood and Garriott for new retail outlets.

The city of Enid purchased the former grocery store building in 2011 for $1.75 million. Prior to the purchase, the building had sat empty since Homeland closed its doors in 2005.

The city signed a contract last February to sell the building to Dallas-based Hunt Properties, a commercial real estate development company. At the time the contract was signed, Enid City Manager Eric Benson said the sale would net the city about $100,000 in profit.

When signs for commercial real estate agency CB Richard Ellis appeared in front of the Homeland building this week some speculated the city’s deal with Hunt Properties had fallen through.

Benson said the deal with Hunt Properties is intact, and Hunt Properties is soliciting prospective tenants.

“Nothing has changed,” Benson said. “Hunt Properties is doing its agreed-upon due diligence. It’s very typical for retail developers to evaluate prospective tenants.”

He said Hunt Properties is “casting a wide net” to find the best tenants for the building, and for the Enid market.

Hunt Properties is using the first of two approved extensions to its contract to secure leases for the building.

Enid Assistant City Manager Joan Riley said the original contract specified Hunt Properties could exercise up to two 90-day options. The contract required Hunt Properties pay an additional $10,000 into its deposit for each extension.

Hunt exercised its first option, and made the additional $10,000 deposit, in November. The second extension option, if utilized, would end in May.

“We were very business-friendly (in the contract),” Benson said. “They (Hunt) asked for that time period, and the council agreed to it.

“We gave them a time period, and they’re using that time period to do their internal research and find the best opportunities to utilize that asset.”

Mark Inman, senior vice president for CB Richard Ellis Oklahoma, said Hunt Properties has contracted with his company to find tenants for the building.

Inman said plans call for redeveloping the existing building to provide four retail lease spaces with frontage space on Garriott, and “alternative use space” in the rear of the structure.

Inman said the plan calls for renovating the building’s interior and constructing a new facade to support placement of national-chain retailers.

“It will be a first-class project,” Inman said. “It will be really nice.”

Plans provided by Inman show a large “anchor store” space of 24,000 square feet on the west end of the building, and three smaller retail spaces to its east, of about 4,500, 7,000 and 5,400 square feet.

The plan shows the north, or rear, of the building occupied by two “alternative use” spaces of about 18,000 and 3,400 square feet.

Inman said prospective deals are in the works for three of the four main retail spaces. He declined to name the prospective tenants because the lease contracts are not yet final.

The plan to renovate the building is a change from a previously announced plan to demolish it and construct a new retail outlet.

Benson said Hunt Properties has the option to either renovate or rebuild the retail space after it completes its purchase.

“They have the option to renovate the building, if that’s what they choose,” Benson said. “Every other suitor we’ve had for that building has said they could make it really nice.”

Benson said the redevelopment of the building, whether through renovation or reconstruction, will meet the city’s goal in purchasing the building: “We want that space to be utilized.”

He said the fact Hunt is soliciting tenants is a good sign the space soon could be utilized for new sales tax-generating businesses.

“It’s a good sign,” Benson said, “because it shows their (Hunt’s) intent to go forward.

“Hunt Properties is a very professional, well-respected and well-known developer, and we’re very pleased to have them as partners.”

Officials with Hunt Properties were not available for comment Tuesday.