I’m betting yes. And this bet was placed even before Richard Mize’s story on Saturday that detailed how committed Devon CEO Larry Nichols is to selling the current headquarters at Sheridan and Broadway.
It has seemed as if all along this was one big chess game with a lot of moving pieces. Consider for a moment that the expansion of the former City Center West garage (now a part of the future Devon complex) creates a potential glut in parking on the east side of the central business district.
The Santa Fe Parking Garage, currently maxed out, will suddenly have hundreds of empty spaces – unless. I could say “unless” James Cotter, owner of Chase Tower (oh, excuse me – it’s Cotter Ranch Tower), is able to fill up the half of his building to be vacated by Devon.
Don’t count on that happening too quickly for a lot of reasons ….
Or maybe it will be “unless” First National Center is fully leased. Pretty much everyone would love to see this happen. But don’t hold your breath.
Or maybe it will be “unless” the former Mid-America Tower – currently home to Devon – is filled up by a new owner. And this is something Nichols could control. So consider that the same Devon tower tax increment finance district that is fueling Project 180 also has $40 million reserved for luring a corporate headquarters to downtown. And also consider that the city has plans to apply for matching funds – potentially millions more – from the Oklahoma Local Development and Enterprise Zone Incentive Leverage Act. And add to all this the GOLT bonds passed by voters a few years back that could allow for even more money (again in the millions) to go toward such a corporate headquarters relocation.
Now consider this key statement from Richard Mize’s column on Saturday:
Devon real estate director Todd Glass said they hope to sell it to an owner-occupier by the end of the year.
Now isn’t that an interesting little tidbit? If this comment were attributed to any other company in town, I’d say, “well, isn’t that nice? Hope is a wonderful thing.”
But with Devon, it’s something different. This is a company so conservative that its founders forgot to take photos of themselves as they built what is now a powerful Oklahoma City corporate headquarters. This is a company that shies away from making promises – “UNLESS” – (there’s that word again) – they have good reason to believe such promises will come true. It’s a company that believes in doing more than hoping. So when someone with Devon says they “hope” to get something done …
I’ve placed my bet. And the addition of up to a few hundred more executives downtown as part of a corporate relocation may be the next big boost for revival of the urban core.
Don’t be too surprised if parking at the Santa Fe garage remains daunting for years to come.