MUSKOGEE, Okla. — Port of Muskogee officials expect to close a real estate deal by early December that will complete the strategic acquisition of more than 600 acres that make up Griffin Industrial Park on the city's south side. 

The $349,500 deal includes the acquisition of a 45-acre tract situated in the middle of an area located along Smith Ferry Road and a couple of structures that eventually will be razed. The acquisition by the Muskogee City-County Port Authority from the Estate of Ray Capps completes a string of purchases in the area that began more than a decade ago.

"This was kind of the last missing piece on our strategy south of town, a large piece," Port Director Scott Robinson said about the tract that had been isolated by prior port authority purchases. "When you try to acquire lands in a strategic way over a period of time and you're not going to exercise your right of eminent domain it's hard to do — it has taken more than 10 years all together to do that."

The strategic acquisition plan began as part of a $1.5 million endeavor initiated by the port authority and funded by the City of Muskogee Foundation. The foundation grant was the first requested and awarded after the nonprofit was created in 2008 and funded with proceeds from a 45-year lease of the former Muskogee Regional Medical Center. 

Robinson said while the port has "come really close in the past of landing a major prospect in this area," the industrial park should be even more attractive now that there are more than 600 contiguous acres. Griffin Industrial Park, which is adjacent to Dal-Tile, also has rail access to the Port of Muskogee and its shipping infrastructure.

"It's attractive to industrial prospects, so I think the chances are good that something good will happen down there — especially now that we've got that piece," Robinson said. "It was a good strategy: We paid too much for some property, other property we acquired at less than what it was worth, but overall I think we've done a good job of paying what the properties were worth."

Port authority directors also authorized an expenditure for up to $10,000 to purchase a parcel of property needed to accommodate an $11.58 million railroad project at the Port of Authority. The project is being funded by a federal $5.7 million BUILD Transportation grant awarded to the Muskogee City-County Port Authority, which will be required to match that amount to pay for the rail modernization project.

Improvements are necessary to accommodate access to the Port of Muskogee by six-axle locomotives, which have become the industry standard. Access is limited now to four-axle locomotives, which are being phased out of existence. 

The parcel is needed to lengthen the arc of the railroad track where it enters the port. It also would include an expansion of the port's railroad marshaling yard.

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