I’m still reeling from the news that Cathy Rigby is STILL performing as Peter Pan …
So despite that and other stories getting your interest this week, let’s recap, shall we?
We’re getting a good glimpse of what’s to come downtown, and if it all comes true, then we’re looking an office market far more vibrant than its been the past 30 years.
When you read my coverage in the Sunday Oklahoman about Devon, you’ll learn more than 2,000 people will be moving into Devon Energy Center when it opens in 2012. We also know from today’s coverage that SandRidge Energy is looking at an expansion of its downtown workforce that will bring the total to 2,000 in five years, and that it will be building a second tower equal in size to its current 29-story tower.
Contemplate that for a moment. Also add into this equation that Continental Resources is looking at employing about 750 people by 2014 as it completes its move to Devon’s current headquarters at Broadway and Sheridan. And have no doubt, Continental is growing. Don’t be surprised if that 750 figure is low – very low.
Also remember that construction will be starting this winter on an 11-story Hilton Garden Inn in Bricktown. And of course the city is very intent on getting a conference hotel built in conjunction with the new convention center. Doing quick math and considering the foot print, this hotel will definitely go vertical Let’s assume it’s the same sort of footprint as the Renaissance Hotel. Add more amenities into the mix, and double the room count, and it’s easy to see it going up 20 stories or higher.
Still with me?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the skyline isn’t finished yet. And I expect even more yet to be announced. In the meantime, enjoy this latest time lapse video of Devon Energy Center by OKC Central contributor Will Hider.
Those of you who receive Google news alerts might have been alarmed to read about 200 layoffs at SandRidge Energy. I just talked to Marsha Wooden, vice president of administration, and did some digging. Wooden reports this alert is false and appears to a rehash of layoffs that occurred two years ago. Some brief investigation shows that indeed, KOTV 6 in Tulsa “updated” their 2009 story today and that it got picked up by an obscure site (seems to be one of those ‘bot sites for advertising), and thus you have the Google alert.
I hope this clears up any confusion. It is true, meanwhile, that oil is racing up to $100 a barrel – a far cry from what we were seeing in 2009.
Originally home of the Oklahoma City Savings & Loan, this building at the corner of Robert S. Kerr and Robinson was built in 1928 and was within weeks of being renovated into condominiums by the Triangle group when Kerr-McGee was acquired by Houston-based Anadarko Petroleum in 2006 and the deal was scuttled.
Here’s a photo of the building’s early appearance:
The building is one of five structures being torn down by SandRidge Energy to make way for a landscaped plaza. A sixth building at 120 Robert S. Kerr will be torn down as well and replaced with a new building.
Expect the old bank building to be history within just a few days, if not sooner.
(NOTE: I first published this post in April. I think it’s worth repeating today)
What if, I was asked today, SandRidge Energy had chosen to build a new corporate campus as so many others have done, and left the Kerr-McGee campus a dark shadow over downtown?
Good question. Here’s another question I got hit with this past week: why are you demonizing anyone who disagrees with your outlook on downtown development?
Ouch. That second one hurt. But I won’t say it’s a bad question. It is one that gives me pause.
That’s not my intention here folks. In the battle over the SandRidge Commons project, I don’t see it as good guys and bad guys. I see it as “are all the right questions being asked? Is there a thoughtful deliberation going on before decisions are made?”
I have asked questions and posed challenges that I know have irritated people I like, admire and respect at SandRidge. This is unfortunate, but it also goes to show I’ll do this sort of thing regardless of the subject. Some of my closest friends will point out that I give them the hardest time and subject them to the worst scrutiny.
That’s my job. I’ve also caused some grief to the “underdogs” in this fight – the preservationists fighting the SandRidge demolition plans.
But I’m not trying to “demonize” any of these folks. Truth be told, we could have ended up with a situation where an entire block became blighted, where the north half of the central business district could have entered a slow death.
So let’s answer that first question.
First off, the block would be miserable. Efforts by Rick Dowell to revive the old Midland Mortgage Building would have been more likely to fail being next to an abandoned Kerr-McGee block. Dowell reports that interest is picking up in his long empty building – itself one of Kerr-McGee’s better contributions to the skyline in the 1960s – thanks to the SandRidge Commons plans.
I believe Rick. And for those of you who don’t know Rick, trust me when I say he has never shown an interest in insincerity. He says what he thinks, and doesn’t really care at all (sometimes to his detriment) about how the rich and powerful might be annoyed by his remarks.
If SandRidge had never come downtown, Rick Dowell’s building would likely remain empty for years to come. If it comes to life over the next couple of years, as he anticipates it will, then it’s not a big jump in logic to credit part of that revival to SandRidge.
One can not fully appreciate SandRidge’s renovation of the main tower itself. It was badly outdated. The decor was straight out of the 1970s with horrible retractable wall systems. It was an ominous place even when Kerr-McGee was still around.
Renovations aren’t complete, but what’s been done seems to impress all who see the tower. And the workforce is happy, vibrant and part of the downtown community. That can’t be said about Kerr-McGee for it’s final dozen years. It was a tomb, a depressing and oppressive environment for those who visited.
We also know that the SandRidge Commons plan isn’t all demolition. By all accounts the planned renovation of the Braniff Building is a stellar example of proper preservation (of course we won’t know everything until it’s done). And the company is planning no ordinary piece of architecture to replace the 120 N Robinson building (the combined parking and office structure that was once home to the Petroleum Club).
So what we may have here is a bit of inadequate public relations. Or maybe it’s to SandRidge Energy’s credit that nobody with the company has pulled the line of “just be grateful we came downtown.”
They could have.
Here’s another odd bit: when members of the Triangle Development group had the deal to renovate the older Kerr-McGee properties into housing, they had gotten so far as to get tax increment financing to tear down the former YMCA building and its connector structure to the old Kermac Building. The partners also were hinting, but not saying, that they had no intention to rush into renovating or preserving the old India Temple Building (privately they were saying the same things being said now by SandRidge).
So why was there no protest then? Essentially the Triangle Group was only proposing to save one more building (Kermac) than what’s being saved and renovated by SandRidge. But under that scenario we’d still have a dying Kerr-McGee tower that had fewer and fewer people inside and was adding less and less to the neighborhood.
Maybe I should have written this post sooner. But I was counting on SandRidge Energy making its own case and pointing out the obvious. It didn’t happen. So here it is – feel free to now debate and throw more tomatoes at the author.
For the past couple of months we’ve seen most questions submitted to SandRidge Energy answered with “no comment.” The last question I submitted to SandRidge last Monday was as to whether a comment by attorney Frank Hill indicating SandRidge Energy might abandon downtown if they are blocked from tearing down six buildings on their campus has gone unanswered.
But last Thursday, as I was busy reporting on the federal lawsuit against Bob Funk and the pending foreclosure of First National Center, I received the following press release through The Gooden Group along with the image shown at the top of this post:
We recognize the passion that many have shown for the development and preservation of downtown Oklahoma City. We share this passion and appreciate the overwhelming support and enthusiasm that many in the downtown community continue to show for the SandRidge Commons master plan.
We have put forth a dynamic, well-considered urban plan promising to bring vibrancy and energy to this part of downtown and accommodate our growth over the next decades, as we add attractive corporate jobs.
We remain confident SandRidge Commons is the right thing for Oklahoma City and that it will make a significant contribution to the vibrant and thriving downtown we all desire.
So, what do you think about SandRidge Energy threatening to leave downtown? Read the story here.
“SandRidge Energy might have to reconsider whether downtown is appropriate for its headquarters”
Looking like a 2-1 split on India Temple, Oklahoma Capitol Savings buildings… quote from observer on voting on each building … “did you hear that baby scream when they split him apart? They’re going to make everybody unhappy.”