“I really thought there would be a lot more bidders,” Box said, who purchased the building with an $800,000 bid.
Former owner Irene Lam had owed Bank 7, the lender, more than $771,000 on the landmark structure.
Box, no stranger to the area, has an ownership stake in several properties along N.W. 23rd, including the two buildings that house Big Truck Tacos. His real estate portfolio also includes properties in Bricktown and on Campus Corner in Norman. And despite not being a golfer, he purchased The Greens Country Club in 2005.
With the historic Gold Dome building, Box said he was drawn by the chance to breathe new life into one of the city’s most iconic sights.
“I like challenges and things that are fun, and interesting to work on,” he said. “It’s a cool, one-of-a-kind building.”
His plans for the dome, however, are unclear at this point. After winning the bid, he went to the dome to look around and chat with tenants.
Despite being on the National Register of Historic Places — where it is listed as Citizens State Bank — the building can be torn down, but Box said that is not his plan.
“The plan is just to make it better,” he said.
A decade ago, the building had a date with the wrecking ball as Walgreens wanted to build a drugstore on the site. Preservationists rallied around the project. Lam, an Oklahoma City optometrist, bought the building from Bank One in 2003 for $1.1 million with help of a federal loan.
But she had since fallen behind on both property taxes and the loan payment, which the city paid.
Earlier this year, Oklahoma City Planning Director Russell Claus informed Oklahoma City Council members that Lam had only been paying interest on the loan, and a foreclosure likely was looming.
Jennifer Seal, president of the Uptown 23rd District Association, was not at the auction, but said she was pleased that a local owner had purchased the property.
“It is very good news for the Uptown 23rd merchants association,” she said. “Many of us were very hopeful that the purchaser would be someone who was willing to respect the historical value of the building.”
Box will next determine the best use for the building.
“Now we just need to roll up our sleeves and figure it out,” he said. “It could be a cool venue. It’s a great location in the center of town.”