Yes, yes, I know it’s in downtown Tulsa, not in downtown Oklahoma City. And yes, I realize there are those of you who might take this post as a sign that OKC Central is being taken over by the Tulsa World. Now, relax, and take this as it’s intended – an interesting glimpse at the renovations underway at the Mayo Hotel in Tulsa. It’s a cool project, and the Mayo is to Tulsa what the Skirvin is to Oklahoma City. Both hotels share glorious pasts through the 1960s, only to be sadly neglected in the 1980s and 1990s. We all know about the Skirvin’s rebirth; it’s interesting to compare it to what’s underway at the Mayo.
The player, by the way, is a bit weird. Just hit the first button on the left bottom row that says “Mayo.”
That is exactly what the folks at Venture Architecture did sometime last year, and they’ve since posted the video as shown below on You Tube. Venture Architecture is designed the Harding and Shelton development that will include the Zio’s building and the adjoining Red Ball building.
They say that all journalists are cynical and are harbingers of only bad news. I’m not arguing that my profession probably deserves a lot of the criticisms it gets day to day. But I’ll be the first to admit I’m the type to root for the underdog. And Marva Ellard was definitely the underdog when she bought the Sieber Hotel more than a decade ago. Once a MidTown landmark, at 1305 N Hudson, the property was a mess by the 1990s.
For whatever reason, Ellard had plenty of doubters. Two city council members seemed intent on sinking her project at one point. Other downtown developers tried to place doubt as to whether she could ever pull it off.
And yet Marva pulled it off. I had a lot of fun covering this this past decade, and in conjunction with my coverage today, I thought I’d share a pictorial journey through the good and bad times of the Sieber Hotel.
The Sieber Hotel during its “glory days.”
The Sieber Hotel – during not so glorious days (circa 2001)
Marva Ellard gets to work on the lobby.
This building will not fall!
Marva Ellard looks upward at the skylight in the Sieber lobby - maybe for some divine guidence….
Window restoration – one of the most complicated and expensive items on any historic tax credit project, begins (circa 2007)
The old mosaic tile floor in the Sieber lobby is revealed to be incredibly intact.
The former Sieber butcher shop and grocery, once barely standing during early renovations, is back in top shape by fall 2008.
The completed lobby – one of many wonderful photos shot by Paul Southerland during a recent tour.
Thanks again to Chad Huntington for taking these shots. Be sure to visit his store, Oklahoma’s Red Dirt Emporium, and all the locally owned restaurants that have suffered through this icy blast.
I’d like to thank Kurt Gwartney for having me on his show at KGOU this week. We discussed my Bricktown book and the past, present and future of the district. To listen to our discussion (it starts after his first question and ends just short of my final comment), go here.
Very, very cool photo taken by Chad Huntington at my request. For those of you who don’t know Chad, he’s a veteran downtown advocate who in earlier years was director of the Automobile Alley Main Street program. He’s now manager of the Water Taxis and is co-owner of Oklahoma’s Red Dirt Emporium, a store in the Miller-Jackson Building (below Hooters on the Canal) that has a pretty impressive assortment of gifts and foods that were made in Oklahoma.
Not sure how I missed it when Charles Hill at Dustbury first referred to the below comments at ULI. But I’m going to reprint in whole (forgive me Charles) and let the discussion ensue:
First, from ULI:
Thoughts on Property Tax
This post was written for The Ground Floor by Bill Hudnut, senior resident fellow/Joseph C. Canizaro Chair Public Policy at the Urban Land Institute.
How about restructuring the property tax across America to install a two-tiered system? More tax on those horizontal pieces of empty land and asphalt, less on the buildings. That is, reduce the tax rate on homes and other improvements, and substantially increase the rate on the site value. I think such a system would induce more compact development and more infill work.
Pittsburgh has used the system for years until problems arose with the way assessments worked out, as my colleague and former Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy has told me. Nonetheless, if assessments are fair, the higher land tax would bring vacant or woefully under-used central sites into use, giving new life to inner cities and reducing sprawl. It would also stem land speculation, which is the big engine behind house price escalation, thus stabilizing neighborhoods and keeping sale prices and rents more affordable. The land tax returns to government–the values it creates with bridges, roads, and other infrastructure–helping to pay for maintenance and necessary improvements.
Years ago, in 1972, ULI issued a Research Monograph (No. 19) by R.W. Archer, discussing the Australian States’ use of the site value system of taxation. It quoted an American land economist, Professor M. Mason Gaffney: “If the real estate tax as it continues to grow (in America) is not to scorch the earth, it must be modified to exempt improvements. That can be done by focusing it on the base of land value or site capability, which not only permits improvement but positively prompts it.” In short, a two-tiered property tax system taxes land and building values separately. Higher taxes on the land, lower taxes on the building, discourages a land holder from leaving his land fallow and speculating on its increased value, and conversely, encourages improvements on the land and redevelopment. The monograph used Sydney Australia as a case study, but its general point, that a site value tax system puts “pressure on owners to sell their property for redevelopment if they cannot or will not redevelop it themselves.”
1972 was over a quarter of a century ago; but could there be here an idea whose time has come?
And now from Charles at Dustbury (again, please forgive me for violating blog etiquite, but this is an important item to discuss, in my view, and shouldn’t be cut short with a link):
In late December I mentioned a proposal by Bill Hudnut of the Urban Land Institute for a two-tiered property-tax structure that taxed vacant land at a higher effective rate than developed land, reasoning that the higher tax would spur development.
This Market Urbanism post says that a Hudnut-like scheme would be beneficial in the short run, not so much in the long run:
Speculators essentially hold the land until development is optimal for the site, and all sites cannot optimally [be] built at once. Discouraging speculation drives the land into the hands of developers at cheaper prices than current market prices.
At the same time, all the new developers will compete … for users of the space they build on the vacant land in reaction to the new tax regime. This either means they’ll build smaller in anticipation of the glut of new development, or vacancy rates will be much higher.
De rigueur Jane Jacobs reference:
[The proposal] will harm the diversity of building age that Jane Jacobs claims as a key ingredient that makes for great cities. The stock of buildings will be disproportionately represented by buildings built shortly after the tax scheme is enacted. As new development occurs, affluent people will be attracted to the developing areas. As these buildings depreciate, the more affluent will relocate. Without enough diversity, over a long period of time a neighborhood will be predominantly lower-class residents.
And an alternative scheme is proposed:
I do favor some regional, state, or other tax based upon acreage. (if offsetting income tax or other productivity-stifling taxes) However, I would implement the tax to discourage sprawl, not to discourage speculation. Thus, I would tax each acre equally, whether developed or vacant.
The one thing both proposals have in common is separating the tax on the actual land from the tax on whatever structures may have been built on it, which seems a rational approach: you can always replace a building, but they’re not making any more land. (Well, there’s always the Dutch, but they have other motivations these days.)
A reader of this blog brought this masterpiece to my attention and I agree, there are some features that really do seem to be similar to what’s being attempted by architect Bryan Fitzsimmons in the Cottage District (or SoSA).
From the Frank Lloyd Wright website:
Wright’s Robie House
The Robie House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for his client Frederick C. Robie, is considered one of the most important buildings in the history of American architecture. Designed in Wright’s Oak Park studio in 1908 and completed in 1910, the building inspired an architectural revolution. Its sweeping horizontal lines, dramatic overhangs, stretches of art glass windows and open floor plan make it a quintessential Prairie style house. Although it was designed more than ninety years ago, the building remains a masterpiece of modern architecture.
And what, you might ask, is the Mideke Supply Building? Let’s applaud Gary Berlin and Lynnete Hendrix for referring to the above building by it’s historic name instead of that of a briefly successful gift store that operated in the 1990s (the Bricktown Mercantile).
Gary has also discussed restoring the name on the sign that is still attached to the building at the corner of Oklahoma and Main. For now, though, we get to enjoy a rare sight in Bricktown – the appearance of life above the second floor.
Here’s what Lynnete had to say in her email that arrived with the above photos:
We don’t think they have been on in many many years as we even had to have electricians work to get them in working order. Each single light is the low energy floresent with a long lifetime.
We can’t wait to get a photo with 3rd Degree and City Walk all lit. up. It is unbeleivable how she shines all lit up. Breaths new life to that dark corner.
We are presently turning lights on Friday and Saturdays but hopefully in the future we will have a timer so they can be on each night during business hours.
Gary bought the building a couple of years ago and he has made it no secret that he wants to finish out the upper floors and get them occupied. If Gary, a newcomer to Bricktown, is able to pull off such a nice addition to the Bricktown skyline, I wonder why veterans like the Brewers can’t do likewise with another Bricktown landmark, the old Hunzicker Bros. Building (home each fall to the Haunted Warehouse). Brent, Brett… how about it?