Dorwart defends Drillers downtown assessment deal

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Attorney Frederic Dorwart sent an e-mail today to fellow downtown property owners defending the use of a downtown assessment district to fund a new downtown Driller stadium. (You may recognize Dorwart's name as he represented Tulsa Industrial Authority in its Great Plains Airlines-related lawsuit against the Tulsa Airport Improvements Trust. Dorwart is also the attorney for the Bank of Oklahoma.) I won't introduce him further because he does that himself in his opening paragraphs.

July 8, 2008
From: Fred Dorwart

As some of you know, I own Old City Hall located at 124 East Fourth Street. I have been providing legal services, without charge, to the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce and the Mayor's Office to effect the exciting opportunity which the proposed Downtown Stadium and associated amenities in the Brady and Greenwood Districts presents.

Mr. Morlan's email contains five errors. I felt it important for you to know the facts when you decide whether the proposed Business Improvement District is in the best interests of all of us committed to a vibrant Downtown Tulsa. The five facts are as follows.

First, owners who have homestead exemptions will not be assessed. The Mayor and her advisors engaged in a careful weighing of the equities in establishing the manner in which the assessments would be levied. Many argued that to the contrary, but the Mayor determined it was important to all downtown property owners to encourage homestead ownership; consequently, the proposed Improvement District will not assess homestead owners. If you are a homestead owner and received a notice, the notice was in error. The adoption of the Improvement District includes a provision by which any erroneous notice may be corrected. Some confusion may exist because the existing Improvement District (which terminates June 30, 2009) does not exempt downtown residential property with a homestead exemption.

Second, property owners who are not homesteaders will pay only their proportionate share of the land square footage; the balance will be allocated to the homesteaders and exempt. For those property owners who are not homesteaders, the annual assessments Mr. Morlan states below would mean a studio unit has 1400+ square feet, a one bedroom unit 1,700+ square feet, a two bedroom 2,000+ square feet, and a townhouse 2,500+ square feet. I guess that's possible; you would know.

Third, only the downtown services assessment ($0.022 per square foot annually or only 34% of the total) will increase with inflation and that increase is capped at 4%. If services are to continue, the services should not be eroded by inflation. The assessments for the stadium and related facilities (66% of the assessment) will not increase with inflation. In fact, it is possible that the construction portion of the assessments may be paid off prior to the thirty year authorized period, depending upon how downtown Tulsa develops over the next several decades.

Fourth, the experience of many cities across the country demonstrates that an investment in downtown recreational facilities will dramatically increase your property values. The Downtown Stadium will be the third leg of Downtown success, leading the way with the BOK Center and the refurbished Convention Center.

Fifth, the construction of the Tulsa Downtown Stadium is authorized by Section 39-103 of Title 11 of the Oklahoma Statutes. The Business Improvement District has been carefully thought out. The Mayor has done a terrific job of balancing the equities to let Tulsa take this next big step forward. The Mayor and her advisors have spent substantial amount of time visiting with downtown property owners impacted with the new assessment and at this time the Mayor has support from over 50% of the downtown property owners on the proposed assessment.

Each of us must decide. Please decide based on the facts. Personally, I strongly support this initiative.

As I wrote in Urban Tulsa last week, I like the idea of the Drillers downtown, and the proposed location is an excellent choice. It helps connect activity centers downtown that are currently detached from one another. I like the idea of financing it using an assessment on direct beneficiaries rather than a tax on the general populace. I just wonder about the equity of the assessment on very distant property owners.

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webworm Author Profile Page said:

As a hard-core baseball fan, I would like for the Drillers to play in the downtown area. But I believe this is doomed to fail. No fans will show up for these games, and the Drillers will be gone in three years. The recent article in the Local Rag told us how popular this franchise appears to a lot of major league teams. I refuse to believe Lamson is being taken in by N227KT! By the time this is built, she will be gone, and the chance to move to Jenks will have passed.

Bob said:

Remember that a minor league baseball team derives a significant amount of its revenue from food and drink concessions.

For that reason, they are excellently placed at the Fairgrounds because there are few food & drink venues nearby to their stadium at 15th and Yale.

However, at a downtown stadium near Brady District and the Blue Dome District, they will face competition both before and after the game from these nearby entertainment venues.

People who decide to drink and dine BEFORE a Drillers game will actually hurt the Drillers revenue.

I also think that the lack of available free parking will be a negative for those planning a trip downtown to see a Drillers game.

This stadium deal is another patented 30-year BAD deal from Mayor Kathy Taylor, just like the relocation of City Hall.

S. Lee Author Profile Page said:

A recent Tulsa World article on the booming growth of Broken Arrow.
Note the last paragraph: "People move here because it's a safe place to live," he said. "It's a great place to raise a family."

Now, I have to ask: Exactly how is spending 60 million bucks moving a ballpark from over HERE to over THERE going to address Tulsa's position relative to that last paragraph?

Jenks is experiencing rapid population growth. So is Owasso and Coweta. All of them quite some distance from downtown. Do you reckon that the missing downtown factor is a ballpark? I thought the new convention center was suppose to be the big fix. Evidently not. And, evidently, neither was the 60 million bucks for a glass city office building.

I guess there is some magic dollar figure where, if you buy that amount of stuff downtown, suddenly everyone will be irresistably drawn to it like a black hole. A big black hole. Sucking away.

In the meantime, Tulsa manages to keep its crime rate a bit above double the national average. (Way to go. Tulsa!!) Burglary at or near the top ten -- about six times that of NYC. (You da place, Tulsa!!) You don't suppose all those people who decided to settle in Broken Arrow, Jenks, Owasso, and Coweta ever considered Tulsa's crime rate, do you? Naaaaah. Pffft. It had to be the lack of a downtown ballpark ... or convention center ... or glass city offices ... or SOMETHING we haven't bought yet ...

(like adequate police and justice system).

mpeps Author Profile Page said:

Lee, I think you're missing the intent of developing downtown.

The BOk Arena and the Drillers Stadium are supposed to stimulate dense retail, commercial, and urban living. Density is something that Owasso, Jenks, BA, Bixby, South Tulsa, and all-things-suburbia can not provide.

BTW, I used to use Tulsa's crime rate as you just did to slap Tulsa around a bit. True, it is an undeniable problem and people do take it seriously into consideration when thinking of where to live (I did). However, Tulsa's current crime rate didn't just happen overnight.

It is a complex issue, but I see the fact that the middle class has slowly, over time moved out of Tulsa as being one of the reasons Tulsa's crime rate has increased.

As the middle class left, the concentration of poor and lower middle class increased in Tulsa neighborhoods and schools. And anytime you concentrate poverty crime will rise. Crime and poverty go hand-in-hand.

More police are needed on the streets, but they are a band-aid on a bigger problem.

W. said:

Those who continually tout how great the suburbs are are missing one key thing:

The price of gas.

As the price of fuel keeps rising, the more the outer suburbs like Owasso, Broken Arrow and Jenks will stagnate. People will start moving back into Tulsa because of the unholy cost of commuting.

S. Lee Author Profile Page said:

Mphelps, I think you're swallowing the official hogwash.

There already IS a convention center downtown and has been for quite some time. Guess what; no development. In fact, the area of downtown that got torn out to build the new center was near the old center. Ah well, it wasn't a big enough convention center. Build a bigger one and THEN the development will come. Oh yes. That was the mistake: We didn't make the first convention center big enough. Silly us.

By the way, check your stats a little bit. Tulsa does not have an unusually high ethnic population. It is not economically depressed. It just has a high crime rate. To bring the crime rate to the national average by a whole bunch of fine, upstanding folks moving in will require the influx of 350,000 people -- all of them honest. In short, almost the entire populations of the suburbs will have to pack up and move into Tulsa. And somebody has got you to thinking that moving a ballpark about five or six miles from its current location will accomplish that.

Yeah boy. I have some land I want to sell you. Oh wait! You're already paying for some expensive real estate projects that were supposed to accomplish these wonderful things and make us all happy and wealthy.

(they made somebody happy and wealthy)

This reminds me of the Democrats and their government programs of the 70s and 80s. The programs kept failing. Rather than admit the plans were flawed, the excuse was always that we just needed to spend more money. Like Mr. Creosote and one more mint: Just oooonnne moooorrre building project.

webworm Author Profile Page said:

Phelps and others must remember why people originally moved out of Tulsa.

The schools; When the schools were integrated, people moved away to avoid their children having to ride buses all over town and suffer the school problems and indignities we have seen happening ever since. This is a simple fact. It may be criticized by the elitists as racist, but it is true. And the elitists don't send their kids to the public schools, unless they use their influence to get them in a place like Booker T.

Rather than families moving back into Tulsa, what we will see is the continuing movement to the 'burbs of businesses, including doctors, hospitals and services, including smooth streets. There is no room in MidTown for influx. There is no room in Maple Ridge for more homes. This is a simple fact. And a lot of people will want to stay as far away as possible from one of the ugliest structures I have ever seen (see Jay Cronley's description of the BOK), and I'm not talking about N227KT's house over there by the Tennis Club!

webworm Author Profile Page said:

oh...and Bob spoke about concessions at the ball park...ever been to a game at Wrigley Field in Chicago? No parking at all; surrounded by bars and restaurants and they pack them in there every game. But the North Side of Chicago, Wrigleyville, is not Tulsa and is not Greenwood, so we can forget that sort of thing. I hope Mr. Lamson gets out of this scam and moves to Jenks!

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on July 10, 2008 1:27 AM.

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