Live updates: Oklahoma coronavirus cases now 719; 30 dead

NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

Decade marks transformation downtown

A view from the hill as Kings of Leon perform in the newly opened Scissortail Park on Sept. 27. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman]
A view from the hill as Kings of Leon perform in the newly opened Scissortail Park on Sept. 27. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman]

The past decade for downtown Oklahoma City has been one of rapid transformation, disruption, loss and triumph.

Ten years ago, we had a skyline without the 50-story Devon Energy Center and 27-story BOK Park Plaza. We had two of downtown’s landmark towers, the former Liberty Bank Tower and First National Center, being neglected by out-of-state owners.

Losses would include beloved restaurants and shops, legends that were key in reviving downtown and several historic properties.

But as the decade comes to an end, downtown is still moving forward, changing and expanding in every direction.

This is just a snapshot

2010

SandRidge Energy Inc. fights a successful battle to demolish six buildings surrounding the former Kerr McGee tower as it sought to create a master plan for a SandRidge Commons extending from its new headquarters. At the time, the company was projecting it would grow from 650 to about 2,000 employees working downtown.

Then-CEO Tom Ward threatened to move the company out of downtown if the plans were not approved by the city’s Downtown Design Review Committee.

One of the buildings approved for demolition dated to 1902. Meanwhile, the city’s only internationally recognized architectural landmark, Stage Center, was shut down after extensive flood damage, leaving its future uncertain.

2011

The Art Deco Union Bus Station closed, joining a growing number of buildings on the same block going dark and being bought by investor Nicholas Preftakes.

The $42 million makeover of Myriad Gardens, largely funded through the Project 180 tax increment finance district created by construction of the $750 million Devon Energy Center across the street, is completed.

Much of E.K. Gaylord Boulevard, deemed one of downtown's worst pedestrian corridors by a national walkability consultant, is being dropped from Project 180 improvements because of a shortfall in revenues and cost-overruns at Myriad Gardens and other street projects.

With construction of Devon Energy Center nearing completion, Continental Resources Inc. announces its move from Enid to the soon-to-be vacated Devon headquarters at 20 N Broadway.

2012

Devon Energy Center opens and 1,400 employees move in, leaving vacated space at several other downtown properties that are quickly leased to other tenants.

The new Interstate 40 route opens south of downtown, leaving the old alignment ready to be transformed into the future Oklahoma City Boulevard.

2013

The Lunch Box, a decades-old cafeteria and grill, joins a growing list of properties closing as rumors persist of a plan to raze the stretch of Sheridan Avenue between Hudson and Walker Avenues to build a new tower.

Rainey Williams Jr. and Chicago-based Clayco announce plans to raze Stage Center to build an office tower for a corporate headquarters. It would later be revealed they were working on behalf of OGE Energy Corp.

2014

Hines, which developed Devon Energy Center, announces plans for a 27-story tower and two garages at 499 W Sheridan Ave. The plan includes 250,000 square feet of additional space to be leased to Devon Energy. The plan includes demolition of the Hotel Black, the Lunch Box, Union Bus Station and Carpenter Square Theater buildings purchased and then closed by Nicholas Preftakes.

Meanwhile, conditions continued to deteriorate at First National Center with its owner, Aaron Yashouafar, facing several bankruptcies and a string of fraud allegations across the country.

With utilities cut off and tenants fleeing, the landmark is put into court-ordered receivership.

Stage Center is demolished, and a wave of apartment and hotel projects are started in Bricktown and Deep Deuce.

2015

Plans for OGE Energy Center at the former Stage Center block are unveiled proposing a 25-story commercial building and 26-story, 253-unit apartment tower, matching a 25-story tower at the corner of Hudson and Sheridan avenues that would be home to OGE Energy Corp. and a second residential tower to the west.

Both residential towers would have faced Walker Avenue and consisted of 253 upscale apartments. Both office towers would have faced Hudson Avenue and would have consisted of about 500,000 square feet of office and retail space.

A summer 2015 start on construction came and went as Clayco and the city whittled down an initial request for $142 million in tax increment financing assistance to less than $22 million.

Demolition, meanwhile, proceeds on buildings to make way for the 27-story tower to be built by Hines.

2016

Aubrey McClendon, a larger than life figure who co-founded Chesapeake Energy Corp. and grew it into not just a major employer but also a player in redeveloping dozens of properties throughout the city, dies in a car crash. His loss is a hit to the Boathouse District, where he was a major visionary, donor and fundraiser. Just weeks later, the MAPS 3 RiverSports Rapids opens along the Oklahoma River.

Turmoil hits the Thunder with a shocking decision by star Kevin Durant to leave for the Golden State Warriors. But Thunder fans end the year with hope as another star, Russell Westbrook, surprisingly decides to extend his contract for at least two years.

Developers Gary Brooks and Charlie Nicholas buy First National out of receivership and immediately launch into a $250 million redevelopment into apartments, a hotel, retail and parking.

SandRidge, meanwhile, starts a steady decline following the ouster of CEO and founder Tom Ward. Hundreds of employees are laid off, and the company later declares bankruptcy. The SandRidge Commons plan is abandoned, but only after the controversial demolition of the buildings surrounding the tower. The redevelopment, however, does include a successful renovation of the adjoining Braniff Building.

OGE Energy Corp., meanwhile, scraps its plans for the four towers. Spaghetti Warehouse, Hooters and several other restaurants close in Bricktown.

The 21c Museum Hotel opens in the century-old former Ford Model T assembly plant in Film Row, kicking off a larger development of the area, West Village.

2017

The Jones Assembly, an upscale restaurant, bar and live music venue, opens with performances including an appearance by the legendary Willie Nelson. Work begins on the $70 million West Village, adding 345 apartments and a mix of restaurants and shops to Film Row.

The Oklahoma City Council approves $85.4 million in public assistance for development of a $235.5 million, 605-room convention hotel. Construction starts on both the hotel and convention center while work continues on the MAPS 3-funded Scissortail Park across the street.

2018

Bank of Oklahoma consolidates its Oklahoma City operations at the new 27-story tower built by Hines, leasing several floors and moving in 250 employees. Enable Midstream, meanwhile, announces it will move 480 employees from Leadership Square to the tower.

Brothers Andy and David Burnett announce a deal for Heartland Payment Systems to move its headquarters downtown as it prepares for growth in its workforce. The brothers start construction on the $40 million, seven-story building at NW 6 and Broadway with plans for the company ultimately to employ up to 600 people.

Sam Cory, the new owner of the building where Spaghetti Warehouse had been, starts plans to renovate the Bricktown landmark by opening 216 windows filled with bricks decades ago and restoring the windows. But once the windows are completed, all work stops.

2019

Yet another longtime Bricktown anchor, Chelino’s, closes, though several new restaurants and attractions open, continuing the district’s momentum, including HeyDay Entertainment, Brickopolis and The Criterion concert hall.

Scissortail Park opens and draws 28,000 for a free opening concert by Kings of Leon. The Oklahoma City Boulevard opens, but with signage, lights and traffic controls not completed, the roadway racks up a number of crashes, with most at Klein Avenue.

Rural Sourcing, a software development company with no previous presence in Oklahoma, opens a 150-employee operation at the Rock Island Plow building in Oklahoma City's Bricktown.

The decade ends with a hint of change to come with the passage of MAPS 4, which is passed with a record 72% of the vote. The latest MAPS program is heavy on social services and reflects changing priorities among the increasing number of younger, “MAPS Generation” members of the city council including new Mayor David Holt.

The projects, however, do include extensive connections and improvements along the Oklahoma River and a multi-use/soccer stadium to be located along or near the river and south of downtown.

Related Photos
<strong>The architectural and preservation community unsuccessfully tried to stop the 2014 demolition of Stage Center. Plans to replace it with the four-tower OGE Energy Center were scrapped later. [THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVES]</strong>

The architectural and preservation community unsuccessfully tried to stop the 2014 demolition of Stage Center. Plans to replace it with the four-tower OGE Energy Center were scrapped later. [THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVES]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-120ca35ccfe2018693bc84d4b6a56a9b.jpg" alt="Photo - The architectural and preservation community unsuccessfully tried to stop the 2014 demolition of Stage Center. Plans to replace it with the four-tower OGE Energy Center were scrapped later. [THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVES] " title=" The architectural and preservation community unsuccessfully tried to stop the 2014 demolition of Stage Center. Plans to replace it with the four-tower OGE Energy Center were scrapped later. [THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVES] "><figcaption> The architectural and preservation community unsuccessfully tried to stop the 2014 demolition of Stage Center. Plans to replace it with the four-tower OGE Energy Center were scrapped later. [THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVES] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-97d135777f01be9a8db829b29bc4d5a7.jpg" alt="Photo - Devon Energy Center transformed the downtown skyline in 2011 as it continued to rise up to 50 stories. [THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVES] " title=" Devon Energy Center transformed the downtown skyline in 2011 as it continued to rise up to 50 stories. [THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVES] "><figcaption> Devon Energy Center transformed the downtown skyline in 2011 as it continued to rise up to 50 stories. [THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVES] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-d3576407ac0b140c51fcfe298432c31c.jpg" alt="Photo - A view from the hill as Kings of Leon perform in the newly opened Scissortail Park on Sept. 27. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] " title=" A view from the hill as Kings of Leon perform in the newly opened Scissortail Park on Sept. 27. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> A view from the hill as Kings of Leon perform in the newly opened Scissortail Park on Sept. 27. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure>
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 ›

Comments