Growing pains

Stage Center
Credit: Shannon Cornman

The office tower will be at least 20 stories and incorporate one major tenant combined with additional retail shops, offices and restaurants, said Rainey Williams, president of Kestrel Investments.

Plans for the 3.15-acre site, located between Sheridan and California avenues and Dewey and Walker avenues, include a parking garage and public spaces for downtown residents and visitors.

“We were attracted to it because of the proximity to the Devon Energy tower, the Oklahoma City Arts Festival, the Myriad [Botanical] Gardens and everything else that is going on downtown,” Williams said.

Kestrel Investments purchased the property from the Kirkpatrick Center Affiliated Fund of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation for $4.275 million. Several details, including project cost, design and scope and tenants, likely will be released in 90 days.

“We are having conversations with several [potential] anchor tenants,” Williams said.

Part of the plan calls for Kestrel Investments to submit an application to the city for removal of the Stage Center. The building has been vacant since 2010, when a major flood rendered it unuseable.

“Removal of Stage Center is simply the next logical step in the evolution of making this property useable again,” Williams said. “We know we will go through an exhaustive citizen review.”

The demolition permit would be considered by the Downtown Design Review Committee, which, in turn, would make its recommendation to Oklahoma City Council.

Rainey Williams

Designed by New York City architect John Johansen, Stage Center opened as Mummers Theatre in 1970 to widespread acclaim because of its unique design, which featured concrete forms and brightly colored steel ramps and placed the building’s mechanical systems on the outside. Johansen’s design earned him an American Institute of Architects award in 1972.

Since the vacant structure is in the heart of the annual arts festival, Williams said he will work with organizers to improve and advance the annual event.

“It’s a very significant priority,” he said. “We’ve been in contact with people who represent those organizations and will begin talks with them about what’s important.”

Roy Williams, president and CEO of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, said the prospect for additional office space is welcome news.

“Everyone thought when Devon built its tower and moved that we would have a lot of Class A office space on the market. Not so. It created a demand instead of a supply,” he said.

“There have been times when we had to tell prospects, ‘We’re sorry, but we don’t have it.’ It shows how strong the market is downtown.”

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Tim Farley

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