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Good Demolitions

Demolition has started on two eyesores - the rusted old portable classroom in front of Emerson School in Midtown and the former Body Works Collision Center in Bricktown.

Both demolitions will lead to vastly improved viewscapes at key corridors for the two districts.

Emerson is a jewel of a historic building, named after poet Ralph Waldo Emerson. The first building was built at the corner of NW 6 and Walker Avenue, a key entryway to Midtown, in 1895. It burned down in 1905, but the second building, which still stands, is a great rare example of early statehood architecture.

For decades Emerson was a neighborhood elementary. In more recent times, it served as an alternative school for pregnant teens and kids who had problems not unlike those at other schools - but they often are without the family safety nets necessary to get back on the right track. I've worked with these kids. They're mostly good kids who made mistakes. But the twisted world we live in, it seems as if the kids who had the most problems were too often left with the worst conditions and resources.

This never made sense to me. 

Sadly, because of the portable classroom that was placed at the corner of the property years ago, that architecture has been hidden from the public. That will now change as the MAPS for Kids renovation of the property wraps up for this next school year. And the change is coming just in time as the surrounding area is filling up with a great mix of new housing and the boarded-up, burned out nuisances and crack houses have been torn down.

So this is the depressing sight students have walked up to for at least the past 20 years:

Demolition started last week.

What is great about this project is when it is all done, the campus will longer be surrounded by rusted chain link fencing and crumbling sidewalks, but a new landscaped wrought iron fencing provided through the downtown tax increment financing district. The school will look like this when it's done.

The Body Works Collision Center at 100 Charlie Christian Avenue, meanwhile, is being torn down to make way for three new hotels and a garage topped by housing. The development extends east from hotels, housing, retail and the Criterion music hall rising up along Sheridan Avenue. Combined, all of this will drastically change the east entry into Bricktown.

And coming soon on this same site...

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Steve Lackmeyer

Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter, columnist and author who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's... Read more ›