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Oklahoma City takes major steps toward completing American Indian Cultural Center and Museum

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OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma City Council made major steps toward the completion of the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum (AICCM) on Tuesday, a project years in the making.

The museum first began as a state project, but it was eventually abandoned due to the lack of funding. It will now be completed by Oklahoma City and Chickasaw Nation.

Through a unanimous vote, the council approved three separate agreements Tuesday:

  1. ‚ÄčThe purchase of real estate agreement. According to Oklahoma City's Deputy Attorney Wiley Williams, the state will give the city back land around the AICCM. That land will be given to the Chickasaw Nation to develop in exchange for $14 million.
  2. An agreement among the city, state, tribe and museum foundation that construction on the project will be completed. The city will also have a say in engineering costs and revenue enhancement opportunities.
  3. Authorization for the mayor to sign documents necessary to complete the project. The agreement also assigns management of the contract to the Oklahoma City Economic Development Trust Authority for monitoring purposes on behalf of the city.

"It's a major step forward," Williams said. "There's a project out there that's about $60 million of public funding in that needs to be complete."

Julia Kirt, director of Oklahomans For The Arts, said the completion of the center would not just be a celebration for the city itself but also its tourism industry.

According to Kirt, an economic impact study found 12 percent of art center visitors come from out-of-state.

"Art visitors spend at least $45 beyond the cost of admission per person so, if you have a family of four coming to town, just imagine the impact of that, and even more are out of town visitors who spend almost $100 per person beyond the cost of admission,"  Kirt said.

While the project itself still has a long road ahead, Mayor Cornett said he's confident in its completion given the help of the Chickasaw Nation.

"They're staffed to run this type of facility. They have the resources to be able to take on the risk that we weren't willing to take on the city level and somehow bailed the state out on this of in over 20 years of continual problems and finding the funding," Cornett said.

Williams said there have been ongoing efforts to raise upwards of $31 million to complete construction. $14 million has already been deposited, with the city pledging $9 million.

We're told project officials are still trying to collect the rest.