Weather permitting, it is likely many of you will be excited to see some activity at the long vacant Rock Island Plow Building at Oklahoma and Reno Avenues in Bricktown.
Don’t celebrate yet.
Let’s get into some background first; the building, built in 1909, has been vacant since the early 1980s when it was targeted for redevelopment by original Bricktown developer Neal Horton. During research for my book OKC Second Time Around, I learned that Horton was bewildered when he first walked into the building and found all the desks, paperwork, equipment and furnishings still in place even though the final operation in the building had ceased years earlier. It was, as his architect Don Beck noted, as if the employees left on a Friday and simply never returned.
The building was eventually boarded up, and has remained empty ever since. Avis and Phil Scaramuci bought the building a few years ago, spent quite a bit of money to prevent the building from collapsing, but have done nothing in the years since.
As time passed, the rest of Bricktown has continued to move forward and Avis Scaramuci has been singled out for criticism by the online community and others.
Richard McKown, who worked with the Scaramuci’s son Wade, a respected London architect, on the Level Urban Apartments in Deep Deuce, confirms he is now doing some exploratory work on what it will take to bring the Rock Island Plow Building back to life.
The boards will be removed from the building Tuesday and Wednesday, weather permitting. Then, on Thursday, a historic surveyor will inspect the building’s window openings. And on Friday, the boards will go back up over the windows.
There is no deal yet. But this also is cause to have hope.