The Osage Limited Liability Company is returning ownership of the Palace of the Osage grocery store in Fairfax to the Osage Nation government as efforts continue to sell the building.
The Palace grocery housed the city’s sole food store.
The LLC transferred the title on July 5 and notified the Osage Nation Congress, the Osage News learned.
“This arrangement will create more options for the tribe to sell the grocery store,” said Osage Nation Principal Chief John Red Eagle in a release issued July 9.
The announcement comes four months after the LLC bought the store back in a March 6 foreclosure auction conducted by the Osage County District Court. According to the Oklahoma state courts Web site, Palace LLC (the tribe’s corporation) bought the store for $397,679 at the auction.
The LLC, which acquired the Palace in 2008 when it was launched, sold the store to Barnsdall businessman Rick Parker in 2010 amid money losses. Parker, who had money problems of his own and was delinquent on taxes owed to the Oklahoma Tax Commission, closed the Palace in late 2011 and the LLC began foreclosure proceedings against Parker. As part of the foreclosure process, the store was sold at the March auction.
“We have at least one viable, prospective buyer that has expressed interest in the property, and I hope to meet with them soon,” Red Eagle said. “My main goal is to get the people of Fairfax a grocery store to serve their needs just as soon as it is practically possible.”
The Osage News asked the LLC for comment on the property transfer issue and has yet to receive a response.
“Transfer of the Palace grocery store property to the Osage Nation, including all legal paperwork, is expected to begin immediately. No further comment will be issued until the property is sold,” the release stated.
The property transfer also comes less than a month after two vacant spots on the LLC’s board of directors were filled.
On June 18, Chief Red Eagle announced that he appointed Jim Parris (Osage) and David Stewart to the LLC board. They will fill seats vacated in April by former board Chairman Charles Maker and Howard “Skip” Iba whose terms expired and did not wish to serve additional terms.
“Both of these gentlemen bring a great deal of knowledge to this organization,” Red Eagle said in a statement. “Their prior experience in working with tribal entities will be very beneficial, and we are very pleased with their decision to join the Osage LLC Board.”
Stewart joins the board after spending more than 10 years serving as the CEO of Cherokee Nation Businesses, LLC, according to a news release. In his time there, Stewart expanded and grew gaming revenues from $75 million to $500 million. In addition, he led negotiations with the state of Oklahoma to bring a gaming compact allowing Class III gaming. It was successfully approved by a vote of the people in 2004.
Parris, a certified public accountant, has owned and operated his own accounting business in Rio Rancho, N.M., since 2001, the release stated. Parris has spent the majority of his career focusing on the accounting, auditing and management of tribal governments and the federal government. Parris played an instrumental role in the drafting of the American Indian Trust Reform Management Act of 1994.
Parris and Stewart’s appointments to the LLC board are now subject to Congressional confirmation of the Third ON Congress this fall.