113-year-old Bricktown warehouse cleared for demolition
Two 113-year-old brick warehouses in Bricktown are set to be torn down after the Bricktown Urban Design Committee concluded there is little chance of it being restored or adapted for reuse.
The one-story, 7,480-square-foot warehouse and two-story 14,560-square-foot warehouse, both at 1 E Main, were built in 1906 and have been vacant for at least 20 years. The demolition would be the first for a century-old warehouse in Bricktown since the Steffen's Dairy building was torn down to make way for the Holiday Inn Express.
City planner Michael Philbrick told the committee on Wednesday the building has an extensive set-back from Main Street and is located where regional transit might place a rail line in the future to connect with the BNSF tracks.
Owner Don Karchmer, meanwhile, reported the building is plagued with break-ins by transients and the roof is caving in.
“It’s a haven for the homeless, and we’re running them out every day,” Karchmer said. “They’re going to burn it down if we don’t tear it down. The roof is caving in. The building to me is an eyesore. It’s not conventionally shaped. I don’t see even if I were able to renovate it where I wouldn’t have to destroy much of it to do it.”
Committee member Richard McKnown was sympathetic to Karchmer’s challenges with the building but cautioned he doesn’t want to set a precedent of allowing a building to be torn down to make way for surface parking.
“I get it,” McKown said. “These old buildings are way off from the street, there are no windows and they can’t be turned into something useful. But it’s sad we’ve torn down all these old buildings. My real concern … is once they are gone, it looks like you can add 100 additional parking spaces. And the precedent set if we were to approve more surface parking would be disconcerting to this board.”
Karchmer assured he has no plans to build anything on the building site.
“I don’t think that will happen because it’s under future condemnation from the city,” Karchmer said. “I’m not going to do anything there. I’m going to build a garage next to it, and I might use it as a construction laydown yard. To invest money in a parking lot now would not be worth it because we don’t know how long we could keep it. Five years? Ten years? We don’t know. The city doesn’t know.”