Founders keepers: Buyers take bargains at condo auction in Oklahoma City
Founders Tower's clearance sale wasn't: All condos did not go.
At auction Tuesday night and Wednesday in the former Queen Ann Cafeteria, attached to the tower, were 29 luxury residential condos, some unoccupied, some under lease, 64 in all; nine commercial spaces; the restaurant space on the top floor; plus an annex with 20 office spaces (the former cafeteria), at 5900 Mosteller Dr.
The owners did not get what they wanted, but spokesman Trevor Kelly said Wednesday they were happy to have sold 10 condos for just more than $2 million, plus some of the commercial space for another $700,000. Longtime tenant Covenant Brothers, fine menswear and tailoring, bought the space it has been leasing.
Kelly said the sellers also were happy to see more than half the condos finally land with individual owners, which will open up financing possibilities. Founders Towers' condo sales, he said, never recovered from the Great Recession. The redevelopers turned to renting them for income and taking cash for most of the ones that did sell because conventional loans weren't an option.
Tuesday night's condo auction launched with the usual flourishes, catered beer, wine and heavy hors d'oeuvres. A keyboardist played Three Dog Night's "Joy to the World" and other lively tunes.
For such a start, it ended with a sad trombone. Bidding was reluctant and sluggish despite the clapping and shouting of coat-and-American flag necktie-wearing bid spotters for auctioneer Tommy Bone of National Auction Group Inc. The Alabama-based company came in to move the property for the Tulsa-area Kelly family that invested in the historic, 20-floor former office tower a dozen years ago.
Forty-three people registered to participate in the auction, but no more than a half-dozen bid.
Two-bedroom condos offered for $500,000 went for less than half that.
A vacant one-bedroom condo for lease for $2,251 per month, plus homeowners association dues of $831 per month, plus a special assessment of $70.11 per month, sold for $147,000. A few others fetched prices comparably below expectations.
Negotiations continued after Tuesday night's auction was cut off short.
"The people that bought them thought they paid a good price," said William Bone, president of National Auction Group. "I've never seen a seller that didn't want more money, no matter what they brought. It went pretty well. (The sellers) seemed pleased. They weren't distraught. They wanted to sell all 29, and we just ran out of bidders."
Wednesday's commercial auction saw just one successful bid, by telephone, of $135,000 for a 1,080-square-foot space. Still available were the 12,234-square-foot office annex, the tower's entire 6,242-square-foot second floor, and the 9,552-square-foot top floor, under lease by 3Sixty Restaurant & Bar. Prospective buyers were directed to www.NationalAuctionGroup.com.
"We felt like it was time to move on the investment and get our money back out of it. We were successful in completing a number of sales last night with the residential units," Kelly said Wednesday after the commercial auction stumbled. "We're pleased. It's still going on. We still have a number of people coming back to us."
Some of the condo buyers bought to occupy, some to flip. Kelly said now that individuals own more of the condos than the developer, easier financing should help push prices back up.
"We believe that even with the prices at a slight discount, now you will see those prices moving up if people do want to sell because now people can afford to get a conventional, 30-year, fixed-rate loan, which they otherwise couldn't have gotten," he said.