• Cotter Tower owner files for bankruptcy

    As heirs to a huge estate battle in court, one of Oklahoma City's tallest buildings has fallen into bankruptcy.

    San Antonio investor James F. Cotter passed away in January leaving a disputed will and a feud between Cotter's children and his third wife Bettye Ruth Cotter. Courts in San Antonio appointed attorney Marcus P. Rogers as administrator to oversee the estate until it can be settled.

    Ruth Cotter currently lives in the Oklahoma City area in a home the couple had purchased in 2012.

    The 36-story tower was originally built in 1972 as home to Liberty Bank which was bought by Bank One in 1997 then ultimately became Chase Bank. Cotter bought the 540,000 square foot building in 2004 for $27.9 million.

    Even before Cotter's death, tenants complained of poor maintenance and after Devon built its new headquarters and moved a substantial number of employees out of Cotter Tower, almost half the building was left vacant.

    OKCTalk spoke to various tower tenants who mentioned concerns regarding smells, unregulated temperatures, leaks and poor response from building management.

    In Price Edward's 2017 Mid-Year Office Survey, the building was shown with a 37% vacancy at a time where downtown office occupancy continues to be quite strong.

    In the bankruptcy filing by Rogers in Texas district court, more than 50 creditors are listed and the ownership entity for the building is shown with $10-50 million in assets and the same amount of debt.

    Among the largest creditors are Veolia Energy for $166,677 for utilities provided to the building, $43,099 owed to Otis Elevator and $66,635 due CBRE, the company which has been managing the property and others owned by the Cotter Estate, including the Lakepointe Towers at NW Expressway and 63rd Street in Oklahoma City.

    OKCTalk has also learned that several current tenants have been approached about the possibility of ending their leases early and relocating.

    Local investors have expressed interest in purchasing Cotter Tower, however the building is not currently for sale although that could change given the state of the building's current financial situation.