Renovation set for former Cain's Coffee building
A full renovation is starting up on the one-time downtown home of Cain’s Coffee with plans including conversion of the upper floors into offices and hopes of attracting a ground-floor restaurant.
Tenants will include HGL Construction, which bought the five-story, 50,000-square-foot building at 1 NW 12 in 2016. In the early 1990s, the building was abandoned and blighted and threatened with demolition. The building underwent some repairs by prior owner Stan Engle, who used it for his Christian nonprofit, The Lifehouse, until he sold it to HGL Construction for $3.3 million.
Renovation of the 100-year-old building will allow it to be fully occupied for the first time in a half-century.
Josh Kunkel, owner of Tulsa-based Method Architecture, said HDL Construction will be both the developer and contractor and will occupy the second floor and “at least” half of the first floor and possibly the building’s basement.
“The remaining space includes a gym in the basement that will be a shared space for the whole building,” Kunkel said. “They are currently showing out space for a restaurant on the first floor, though a tenant has not been secured.”
The building, located at the north end of Automobile Alley, was once surrounded by blight that included a boarded-up nursing home and sex offender duplexes. All that property was cleared over the past several years and is now home to the new home of Oklahoma Contemporary, an arts campus designed by Rand Elliott and one of the more ambitious architectural efforts in the MAPS era.
Development in the areas has sped up in recent years following completion of a “quiet zone” along the adjacent BNSF Railway. Other nearby development includes construction of the five-story Broadway Park at NW 11 and Broadway and conversion of the former Mercedes of Oklahoma City dealership into offices for Hogan/Taylor.
A storied history
The building’s past and architecture tell the area’s history.
The building was constructed in 1919 for Sifers Candy Co. and later was deeded to Oklahoma City University. The building was only leased by Cain's, which was started by William Morgan Cain during World War I. Cain's Coffee was based at 1 NW 12 from 1941 until 1961 when a new plant was built along Broadway Extension just south of Edmond.
During the early years, the area was home to a lumberyard, a druggist, the Bond Bakery and a production plant for Triple AAA Root Beer. The city's original streetcars traveled along nearby Broadway and had a maintenance barn immediately west of the Cain's building.
That maintenance barn still exists as part of the Dolese headquarters that is being sold as it moves to north Oklahoma City. The streetcars, Kunkel said, were a factor in HGL deciding to buy the building and make it the company’s future headquarters.
Kunkel said he is unaware of any other building in Oklahoma built with the glazed white brick on the main south facade. Without stamping as typically used with masonry at the time, Kunkel has no information about the origin of the bricks.
“It is very unique,” Kunkel said. “Why they chose it? Maybe (the original owner) being a candy company it fit their brand. But then they went bankrupt soon after. Sometimes large buildings can end up being signs of financial trouble for companies.”
While the south side is in good shape, Kunkel said the north alley side needs extensive work.
“It’s in very poor shape and it has suffered a significant amount spalling of the brick (face cracks off during freezes),” Kunkel said. “Whenever you have an unconditioned building, and this hasn’t been conditioned for a long time, the moisture gets deeper into the brick. And that moisture freezes and creates cracks.”
Interior storm windows will be added inside the historic casement windows to improve energy efficiency and the building’s overall appearance, other than the entry, will match the original look.
“All of the original entry was removed, so we’re going to go in with more of a modern vestibule entry,” Kunkel said. “That’s the only bit of modern being added. Everything else will be historically appropriate.”