The city is pushing forward after discovering that a sizable chunk of promised retail development has stagnated.

The city is pushing forward after discovering that a sizable chunk of promised retail development has stagnated.

City Manager Justin Erickson confirmed Friday that the city had recently been made aware that Hunt Properties no longer has a lease/contract with the Commissioners of the Land Office (CLO) for property planned for development as Phase Two of the city's Marketplace, which sits just south of Hobby Lobby — near Interstate 40 and Kickapoo Street.

“Hunt Properties no longer has any interest in the property nor does it have a contractual obligation with the state any longer,” Erickson said.

As a result, that property and the adjacent state land just west of the Marketplace and south of I-40 are now under negotiation between the State of Oklahoma CLO, and the City of Shawnee.

Shawnee City Commissioners approved a Memorandum of Understanding Monday to collaborate with the state to continue efforts to further develop the area.

Knowing there's no longer a private developer tied to the project, and knowing how important that site is for continued economic development, Erickson said city staff approached the state to inquire about the possibility of working together.

The state and CLO own several hundred acres of land

located north and south of Interstate 40, west of Kickapoo Street and east of Leo Street. Portions of this property have been sold or leased over the last two decades for commercial use, Erickson said.

Given the significance of the property and the potential development of land to the west, discussions were held with CLO staff regarding the launch of a collaborative effort to facilitate development of the CLO property, which would generate significant taxes for multiple parties and be a benefit to the state, according to the agenda.

“The City and the State have been exploring ways to help promote the property and encourage development,” Erickson said. “The purpose of the MOU is for the city and state to work together to master plan the property, engineer site improvements and possibly construct some public improvements (roadways, water/sewer) to facilitate additional development.”

Erickson said the CLO does not normally collaborate with cities to the extent set forth in the MOU and this would provide a major opportunity to help induce additional economic development in the city.

Ward 3 City Commissioner James Harrod agreed; he said it's an unusual step for the state. “In the past they haven't been very cooperative (regarding land in that area),” he said. “I think it's worth our time to do this.”

The CLO is set to consider the MOU at its board meeting Aug. 10.

Mayor Richard Finley and Ward 2 City Commissioner Ron Gillham Sr. were not present at the meeting.