Here are the details in a story from last August, before Sunbeam’s bid was accepted:
Sunbeam hopes high bid claims Classen Terrace By Richard Mize
Real Estate Editor
Sunbeam Family Services Inc. was the highest bidder Wednesday in the auction of an albatross that it hopes to turn into a jewel.
Sunbeam wants the Classen Terrace office building location, 1411 Classen Blvd., for use as its headquarters as it settles into its second 100 years. The 104-year-old social services organization wants to consolidate under one roof — but not the virtually flat asphalt roof over the long-vacant and gutted state office building.
Sunbeam wants to raze the three-story, 85,708-square-foot building, which has been abandoned by all but pigeons, vagrants and graffiti artists since the mid-1990s and stayed controversial for just as long. The would-be buyer awaits word from the owner, the state Department of Central Services, which has the final say on the auction. Calls to the would-be seller went unreturned.
Central Services wound up with the building in 2006 when the Corrections Department, after spending nearly $1 million on it — and pulling it off the auction block at the last minute the November before — sold it for $500,000. Corrections paid $250,000 for it in 1994.
Officials in 2005 said the prison system did not have and could not get the money to make the building usable, even after inmates had cleared it of asbestos. A 2001 proposal for a $4 million bond issue to fund renovations went nowhere.
A 2008 auction failed because no bid met the minimum requirement of 90 percent of appraised value. Nothing came of another auction held in 2009.
Sunbeam’s successful bid on Wednesday was $356,501.
Less is less
It’s been an ignominious decade-plus for the boxy building, erected by Hudgins-Thompson-Ball & Associates in 1954-55 in the midcentury International Style, for which “less is more” was the dictum. Less is even less now, since first modifications to the neutral steel-and-glass architecture — and now boards — have hidden the original exterior features.
Its construction made a splash and caused a traffic jam in August 1954, when a crowd gathered at NW 13 and Classen to watch a 178-ton concrete slab raised 33 feet to become the roof. People stopped their cars and got out to watch a crew from Lift-Slab Inc. of San Antonio, Texas, inch the 58-by-72-foot slab up on nine steel columns, according to a newspaper account.
The developer-owner, later renamed HTB Inc., had architecture and structural and civil engineering divisions, and occupied part of the building itself, said J.C. Witcher of Architectural Design Group, who led ADG’s site evaluation of the property for Sunbeam. The building was fully leased with more than 30 tenants by summer 1955, according to a full-page ad HTB placed in that year’s June 26 issue of The Daily Oklahoman.
That was 55 years ago. Classen Terrace has been troubled now for a generation, and Sunbeam hopes the building’s days are numbered.
“We think that site is the perfect location,” said Ray Bitsche Jr., Sunbeam’s executive director. Sunbeam would be tickled to take down a building that has long been unworkable and unwanted and use the space for its mission “to provide people of all ages with help, hope and the opportunity to succeed,” he said.
Sunbeam, founded in 1907, has been in the same area, the 600 block of NW 20 and NW 21, for 99 years. Its main address is 616 NW 21, but the organization, which provides assistance for the poor and working poor and temporary housing including a senior shelter, is spread across five buildings, the oldest built in 1929.
Bitsche said it’s time to start moving toward moving.
“We’re taking it a step at a time. We want to get to close. Then we’ll send requests for proposals to architects to take it the rest of the way,” he said, while continuing its capital campaign, which is anchored by the slogan “SUNBEAM: New Home Forever Family.”