Unused Drilling Sites Eyed for Housing

Posted on April 3, 2021

Grow Odessa, formerly the Odessa Industrial Development Corp., is mulling a plan to make use of the 266 prospective oil and gas drilling sites around town that have lain vacant for decades, often accumulating trash that makes them an eyesore.

A committee has been named to consider the proposal, but there are obstacles, particularly the need to get mineral owners to cooperate when the owners on just one well often run into the scores and have to be sorted out from county records by landmen.

Grow Odessa board member Dick Gillham is the leading proponent, saying a broad enactment of the plan would rejuvenate the city. Gillham says the plots could be especially useful for housing developments and new businesses. The retired crane company owner says the surface owners and mineral owners are the same at some properties in the City of Odessa’s Drill Site Map Legend, but in most instances they’re different with the mineral owners still needing to be identified.

The sites are all over town with the exception of the area bounded by JBS Parkway on the east, I-20 on the south, County Road West on the west and University Boulevard on the north.

Gillham said Midland attorney Paul Baxter had been contacted about scoping out the mineral owners and making other preparations, but the project is still in the preliminary stage with $100,000 in seed money possibly needed from the $18 million in reserves that Grow Odessa has derived from its industrial development park south of I-20.

Asked how mineral owners could be persuaded, Gillham said, “We might have to change the law.

“We’d have to work with the surface owners on financial deals and we could dedicate some acreage outside the sites for horizontal drilling. The main thing would be housing, which would increase tax revenues with no additional cost to the city because the sewer and streets are already there.”

Gillham said the best approach would be to pick an area or two to start in and work out from there. “People have been talking about this for years, but nobody has gone forward with it,” he said.

“It would take a lot of research to figure out who the mineral owners are.”

Former county commissioner Eddy Shelton, a Grow Odessa board member, said it “is hard to know the feasibility of it because we have not gotten down to the cost per acre.

“Something needs to be done with this uncaptured surface land and Dick has done a great job of realizing what is out there,” Shelton said. “Hats off to him for the love of the community that he has. He’s put together a good assortment of maps, but there are so many different property owners involved that my preference is to take it piece by piece.

“Take the choicest ones and see if they’re feasible. Some legal services will be required and we have not come to an agreement on that. We’re in the infancy stage and we have to see if the benefits would outweigh the cost.”

Shelton is on the committee that’s pondering Gillham’s proposal with Dr. Jimmy Goates and Drew Crutcher, who said the plan “would be a tough row to hoe.”

Grow Odessa’s executive board has 10 members and its board of directors 26 with an all-star cast of business leaders including Odessa American Publisher Patrick Canty.

“This has been discussed from time to time, going back to when we were the OIDC,” Crutcher said. “We need more housing around town and there was an effort not too long ago to see about these drill sites and do something.

“We need to contact the lease holders and mineral owners to see if we can agree on something to free up some sites. I don’t know what they will want to do or for what amount.”

Crutcher said properties north of East 42nd Street and west of Grandview Avenue could be a starting point. “The city talked with Ted Stewart’s heirs about building a fire station there and couldn’t make a deal with them,” he said.

“The cosmic dust has not yet coalesced in the form of planning. Baxter told us it would be an expensive process and a hard thing to get done.”

There are 23 sites in the part of northeast Odessa that’s in Midland County and whose surface owners are unspecified on the city map.

The 107 surface owners identified on the map are the city with 51 plots; Stewart Estate, 28; Occidental Permian, 11, most of them west of County Road West and south of 16th Street; UTPB, nine; CMM 2007 5X5 Trust, eight; James R. Hurt, seven; ECISD and Methodist Orphan’s Home, six each; Harry R. Dieter, five; and Cardinal Homes, Family Dollar Distribution, Verna S. Headlee, Houston Endowment, Union Pacific Railroad and WalMart Stores, four each.

Also, ARCO Environmental Remediation, Ector County, Gordon Headlee Jr., P Bar Parks Bell Ranch and Texaco EP, three each; and Brown Wyly Construction, CA New Plan Texas Assets, Jack N. Mousa, Ann Rich Smith and Trustee Margaret Lyn Gready, MCM Properties, Permian Basin Land Development, SMI 2007 5X5 Trust, Tropicana Ltd. and University Gardens Joint Venture, two each.

Also with one each, SJ Properties, Antioch Christian Church, Mary Frances Barrow, Shirley A. Bartels, Ruben L. and Norma Berdoza, Eldon Blount Construction, Allan Brandon, Broncho Chevrolet, Calvary Baptist Church, Commonwealth Chartered Trust, H.E. Davis Family Partnership, Tom Davis Trust, DMAC Family, Fernando Dominguez, ECISD Trustee, Tommy Fambro, Four Star Oil and Gas, Ashley Garcia, Billy Jack Glover, Elida Gonzalez, Reigle Gordon, Harold L. and WaDonna Groomer and Emmet Vincent Headlee II.

Also, James and Gordon E. Headlee, James E. Headlee, Thomas and Claudia Headlee, HP Real Estate Venture, I-20-385 Development, Jesus and Sofia Ibarra, ICA Properties, Investment Corp. of America, Susan Elaine Ivey, Bobby Jackson, Knighten Service & Supply, Leeco Properties, Harvey Levario Jr., Life Challenge United Pentecostal Church, Lithia Real Estate, MARDEB LLC, Maxim Hospitality, Catherine Marie McKnight, Myrna Mendoza, Mesa Real Estate Partners, MIRC, Morrison Group and North Park Plaza.

Also, Northeast Odessa Development, NWC Development, Odessa Affordable Housing, Odessa Christian Faith Center, Odessa Development Corp., Odessa Housing Finance Corp., Odessa Industrial Development Corp., Odessa Youth Baseball Association, Oncor Electric Development, Stephen H. Parker, Permian Realty, Clyde P. Philpott, Pomeroy RO Equipment Rental, PPR Properties, Ronald D. Rains, Ratliff Ranch Co., Rebecca Lucille Stupfel Exempt GS Trust and Riodessa Development Group.

Also, Tommy Sandlin, Saulsbury Ventures, Billy June Sawyer, Clara Ilene Sissel, Marcella Jean Stocker, T Summer Breeze Inc., Temple Baptist Church, Texas Lone Star Storage Centers, Joanne Margaret Verkin, Sherry Ward, West Texas Boring, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Gary Whitehead and Dwain C. Youngblood.