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Jazz Hall of Fame sued over alleged missed payments; county seeks to end its lease at Union Depot

Jazz Hall of Fame sued over alleged missed payments; county seeks to end its lease at Union Depot

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Jazz Depot (copy)

The Jazz Hall of Fame leases the Union Depot at First Street and Cincinnati Avenue, a facility bought and refurbished by Tulsa County with $4 million in Vision 2025 funds.

The Jazz Hall of Fame has been sued on an allegation that it failed to pay its landlord, the Tulsa County Industrial Authority, $8,474 in past-due taxes and utilities. In the lawsuit, the authority is seeking to terminate the Jazz Hall’s lease.

The lawsuit also alleges that the Jazz Hall of Fame fell so far behind in its utility payments that electricity to the building was turned off on Oct. 19.

The Jazz Hall leases the Union Depot, at First Street and Cincinnati Avenue, a facility bought and refurbished by the county with $4 million in Vision 2025 funds. It pays no rent but is required to cover insurance and utility costs.

“The Jazz Hall entity has defaulted on its lease by failure to pay the obligations required by the lease,” Tulsa County Industrial Authority attorney John Weidman said in a press release.

The authority, which is made up of the three county commissioners, has been clashing with the Jazz Hall of Fame over unpaid bills for nearly a decade.

In 2012, a $3,882 check to the Industrial Authority to cover half a year of insurance on the Union Depot arrived months late and then bounced. Later that year, the Industrial Authority twice gave the Jazz Hall more time to pay the $75,000 in past-due bills.

In addition to seeking termination of its lease with the Jazz Hall of Fame and the organization’s eviction from the Union Depot building, the authority is also requesting payment of the funds it is owed.

Jazz Hall of Fame CEO Jason McIntosh said Tuesday that he would have liked to see the Industrial Authority show more understanding of the organization’s situation. The facility has essentially been closed for months, he said.

“We always pay their invoices, even if they are charges we feel aren’t valid sometimes,” McIntosh said. “We are doing the best we can under the circumstances of COVID.”

But the lawsuit notes that the Jazz Hall of Fame has a long history of “failing to timely pay its obligations under the lease agreement … which has included tendering checks from accounts that contained insufficient funds.”

McIntosh did not dispute that the Jazz Hall of Fame sometimes had trouble paying its bills before the pandemic, but he said, “We always pay. We always pay.”

A hearing on terminating the lease is scheduled for 2 p.m. Dec. 3 in Tulsa County’s small claims court.


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