It’s been an … odd week. It’s been a long week. Not all is well at City Hall. Not all is well with Project 180. Worked much of the week with a bad cold. Then there was the devastating news of Pulitzer Prize winner and loyal Oklahoma City hometown boy Anthony Shadid dying in Syria. Yet there’s much to celebrate. Much that is going well. Oklahoma City is, in many ways, blessed.
So what do we need to look forward to next week?
We now know that the mysterious operators of “Exhale,” the restaurant? club? bar? planned for NW 15 and Broadway have withdrawn their application for ABC (alcohol zoning) at next week’s Planning Commission. Is the development dead? Don’t know, but wouldn’t assume anything.
Another building is threatened. Apparently the successful transformation of funky old buildings along NW 23 by the Good Egg Group and the “taco twins” isn’t enough to convince the owner of the old Hemi’s Pizza at 1007 NW 23 to fix the place up and lease it again. The Urban Design Committee is being asked by the owner, Monireh Mohamadi, for permission to raze the building with no plans for putting anything in its place.
The building has been empty for a few years, and a lack of TLC has left it a bit too obscured for anyone to appreciate what’s behind the overgrown trees, brush and debris. But assistant planner Paul Ryckbost did some research and determined there’s definitely a building worth saving. He’s recommending the demolition be denied. Paul asked my help in finding a historic photo of the property. I search Oklahoman archives, Retro Metro OKC archives, but found nothing. I know that Paul did extensive research as well. And it was that research, which turned up that this property was first opened in 1958 as the home of Richard Lee Portrait Studio, that allowed me to find out how the building originally appeared when it opened:
The owner, for those of you who might be wondering about this sort of thing, lives in a $1.6 million mansion in Nichols Hills.
Gotta wonder…. can we get a competition going between Keith and the taco twins to make this their next great eatery on NW 23? When this owner or his representatives show up at the Urban Design meeting (3 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall) and argue there is no hope for this property, no one wants to lease it, will anyone show up and show otherwise?
I think most of us can agree this NBA stand-off with the players needs to end yesterday or rather, many yesterdays ago. Gotta love Kevin Durant, however, for continuing to show the love to OKC. His latest national Nike commercial is one of the best portrayals I’ve seen yet of the city, especially in such a short clip. I’ve thought, for the longest time, we are a big city with the soul of a small town. We’re not hicks, we’re not backwards or naive “Okies” as portrayed by some, nor are we the traditional definition of a “major league city” as some here aspire to as well. Yes, the commercial is probably all staged. But consider this: in Oklahoma City, Kevin Durant really could drive up to a basketball court at NW 23 and Classen or at gathering of seniors and be warmly greeted, treated as a new friend, without a mob scene ensuing. Yeah, that weather-worn wood frame church is in Oklahoma City, as is the Love’s gas station and the lit up skyscraper hovering as Durant continues his travels.
Thanks KD. Hope to see you back on the court real soon.
Looks like these buildings are now history. It’s not that we weren’t warned that these buildings, built in the 1920s, were being targeted for extinction. Owners tried twice to get permission to tear them down as the area’s Asian community continues to erect concrete block retail strips with cute nods to the area’s emphasis on Asian design.
On the second go-around, with the local preservation community sidelined, exhausted from their unsuccessful fight with SandRidge Energy over its demolition plans, the owners of this strip succeeded in winning approval for demolition.
On Twitter, some on are asking… was this really an accidental fire? That’s a question that awaits the fire department now. Meanwhile, let’s look back at what this block looked like. Were there really no development options with this? Sit back and discuss.
(Buster Keaton in ”College”)
Got the following info from Joe Rosati. This sounds like fun:
Every Sunday night the Prohibition Room will feature an original classic silent movie projected on the big screen. Movies have included Phantom of the Opera, The Chef, and Gold Rush.
The movie starts at 8:30 every Sunday and is free for the public. The Prohibition Room is located at 1112 NW 23in the historic Gold Dome.
Upcoming movies include Intolerance filmed in 1916 from director D.W. Griffith which was voted by American Film Institutes top 100 movies, and College filmed in 1927 featuring Buster Keaton in a classic slapstick comedy.
One dollar domestic beers are offered every Sunday night starting at 5 p.m. For information on upcoming movies contact Prohibition Room at 601-0363. Prohibition Room is open until 2 a.m. every night serving food until 1 a.m. every night.
Just got this press release from the Prohibition Room at the Gold Dome. I can’t say I’m totally surprised. The restaurant seems to be doing well at night and on weekends, but the lunch hour has been dismal. This is not a reflection on the food quality or service. From my own visits and observations from others, some would say the problem is with the menu: too expensive for lunch, and too long of a wait. Hopefully the overhaul will include a menu that caters to the downtown/uptown lunch crowd. The restaurant is a nice addition to the Gold Dome at NW 23 and Classen, and it would be shame if it failed.
Prohibition Room Restaurant/Lounge to Close for Lunch for 2 Weeks to Reorganize and Open Under New Kitchen Management.
Effective Monday December 1st the Prohibition Room Restaurant/Lounge located at 1112 NW 23rd St in the Historic Gold Dome in
North Oklahoma City will close for lunch for 2 weeks for reorganization and new kitchen management. The lunches will re-open again December 15th.
Prohibition Room will be open for business at 4pm until 2am everyday during this process serving dinner service nightly. Prohibition Room will be open Saturday’s and Sunday’s during normal business hours.
This decision is to improve the lunch service providing higher quality and faster service during the lunch period. Prohibition Room has been open for six months providing a relaxing atmosphere for patrons to have dinner and drinks. The small independent restaurant group made this decision to try to fix problems with kitchen issues and succeed in helping the 23rd street area continue the redevelopment process that began years ago.
Co-owner Joe Rosati was quoted “this is an unfortunate turn of events but necessary to the survival of the restaurant in the future and to re-focus on the guest and their needs”
Have fun and spot the downtown players … my spottings included Greg Banta visiting with Mickey Clagg (now that’s a discussion I’d like to listen in on), Bert Belanger, who was accompanied by a Houston apartment developer (just visiting, I’m sure), Chris and Meg Salyer, who I’ll bet are simply bewildered by the idea that Steve Mason has taken properties on the verge of collapse and spent millions to bring them back to life (this inside joke is a test on how much you know about the history of Automobile Alley), architect Rand Elliott and his wife Jeanette (still waiting to see what Kerr Park will look like), MidTown’s Arturo Chavez (quit following me!), the usual gang from Downtown Oklahoma City Inc., Skirvin Hilton General Manager John Williams, that crazy river guy Pat Downes, and many more.
Final note: Ah… free food and drink. Sure fire way to get a reporter in the room. This issue of Oklahoma Today is really impressive – it’s a nice recap of what’s going on downtown and throughout the city.
If you didn’t catch the story yesterday in The Oklahoman, I wrote about a restaurant preparing to open in the Gold Dome. Dr. Irene Lam, who saved the landmark from almost certain destruction a few years ago, can soon boast more than 93 percent occupancy.
Not everyone thought she would succeed.
I still recall then councilman Guy Liebmann (now a state representative) expressing serious doubts about Lam’s chances and questioning whether the city should provide some grants and loans designed for restoring historic properties. I never sensed that Liebmann was opposed to Lam’s efforts – he just didn’t believe she would ever succeed at getting the odd shaped building (once the proud home of Citizens Bank) filled.
For those who don’t recall the events that led to this transformation, it began with an effort by BancOne (now Chase Bank) to move to smaller quarters across the street. Walgreens, meanwhile, was eager to buy the Gold Dome, raze it, and build a new store across the street from an existing CVS drug store.
The historic preservationists – to be blunt – went nuts. They organized, they held pickets at the corner of NW 23 and Classen, and they didn’t spare BancOne or Walgreens their wrath. They also sought out alternate buyers – one of whom ended up being Dr. Lam.
Walgreens and BancOne agreed to look at alternatives that allowed both companies to build new locations at the gateway to the Asian District and allow the Gold Dome to survive for future generations.
Dr. Lam, meanwhile, has stayed true to promises of making the Gold Dome a community center – and will be hosting the Lunar New Year festival on Saturday.
Preservationists since have had hits and misses. They succeeded in convincing the city to rebuild the Walnut Avenue bridge in Bricktown and also celebrated the renovation of once dilapidated Skirvin Hilton Hotel.
More old structures may face demolition in the near future. Developers of the Triangle have indicated they may seek to raze the Finley Building at NE 2 and Walnut. And Tom Ward indicated in an interview a few weeks ago that while he is keeping an open mind on the future of the former Braniff Building and former India Temple Building (one of downtown’s oldest – built in 1902) on the new SandRidge Energy campus, he also couldn’t rule out that they might be torn down.
Do these structures merrit pickets similar to those that surrounded the Gold Dome?