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No, Urban Renewal does NOT want to tear down Spaghetti Warehouse to Create a Parking Lot

The above alert sent out this morning is indeed alarming.

The century-old building is to Bricktown what the Skirvin is to the Central Business District. It is the key, historic anchor at the most prominent intersection in the historic entertainment district. And the restaurant that operated there played a key role in Bricktown being what it is today.

The restaurant sparked the start of Bricktown as an entertainment district when it opened in 1989. Bob Hawk, who founded the Spaghetti Warehouse chain in 1972, came with the secret ingredient for bringing excitement to historic warehouse districts like West End in Dallas, Bricktown and the Brady District in Tulsa.

The former restaurant at 101 E Sheridan is an 82,000-square foot former furniture warehouse with five of its six stories kept empty for the past half century. When the restaurant closed in early 2016, local developers hoped their years of attempting to buy the building for a complete makeover might finally succeed.

Multiple sources have told me the real investment trust that owns the building, however, has spent the last year entertaining offers, telling developers a deal would be done, only to step back and go silent. Meanwhile, multiple developers who have toured the building say its condition is rapidly deteriorating.

VEREIT, which owns the building, scrambled to board up the ground floor entrances last month when the city council was set to declare it abandoned due to its condition and numerous open windows. Rumors still persist on a sale, but to date the group still declines to comment and unsecured openings are still visible on upper floors.

When the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority agenda was released earlier this week, it included an amendment to amend a long-standing urban plan already in place in Bricktown.

Way back in the late 1990s, the Urban Renewal Authority created the MAPS Sports Entertainment-Parking
Support Redevelopment Plan. The purpose, primarily, was to acquire blighted land to create parking, and ultimately new development, in what is now Lower Bricktown.

The commissioners today are considering an item that will add Spaghetti Warehouse to the plan. It doesn’t indicate any other action than that. I talked with Cathy O’Connor, director of Urban Renewal this morning, and she confirmed the plan ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT call for replacing the Spaghetti Warehouse with a parking lot.

“All we’re doing is starting the process to amend the urban renewal plan,” O’Connor said. “The issue is it is a blight. It’s a blight on Bricktown and we are using our urban renewal powers to address this blight. It does not involve tearing down Spaghetti Warehouse and replacing it with a parking lot.”

If you want to read the actual agenda item, it is as follows:

The City of Oklahoma City has previously adopted the Amended MAPS Sports Entertainment-Parking
Support Redevelopment Plan (“Redevelopment Plan”), an urban renewal
plan pursuant to the Oklahoma Urban Renewal Law (11 O.S. § 38-101, et seq.) and an evolution
of the former 1977 Central City Industrial District Urban Renewal Plan, to support the
redevelopment of the area just east of the City’s downtown core and surrounding the primary
portion of the Bricktown neighborhood. The main goals of the Redevelopment Plan are to
support the MAPS projects, provide assistance for the development of south and easternmost
portions of Bricktown, and to create parking areas to support Bricktown’s continued
The City wishes to amend the Redevelopment Plan to revise the boundaries of the Project
Area, as described in Section II.A. and illustrated in Exhibit URP I of the Redevelopment Plan,
to include the following described property (“Property”), which is primarily known for
containing the building that until recently housed the Oklahoma City franchise location of the
Italian restaurant, “Spaghetti Warehouse”

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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 ›