The worst kept secret in Oklahoma City is finally out. And no, we're not talking about the Mathis Brothers / Bob Mills orgy of 2011.
Yesterday, The Oklahoman's Steve Lackmeyer finally reported that local businessman Rainey Williams will construct a new 20-story tower in downtown Oklahoma City. Rumors about the new building have been floating around town for almost a year. The structure will be located at the current site of Stage Center, that Tinker Toy-inspired theatre that architects love because it's weird.
The Oklahoma City skyline is set to grow again with plans set to build a high-rise tower topping 20 stories on the current site of the long-troubled Stage Center theater.
Rainey Williams, president of Kestrel Investments, is set to buy the 3.15-acre property Friday morning from the Kirkpatrick Center Affiliated Fund of The Oklahoma City Community Foundation for $4.275 million.
The tower, which will front the Myriad Gardens to the east and the new John W. Rex Elementary to the west, will likely include retail on the ground floor and space for an anchor tenant and potentially other occupants on the remaining floors....
I guess that's cool. I just wish the new building would be taller. At only 20 stories, it will still be dwarfed by the Devon Tower. Basically, it will just be another pube paying homage to the giant cock that protrudes out of our skyline. Seriously, we need a taller building to make our skyline less phallic.
As I mentioned, the building will be located at the current site of Stage Center. Over the past decade, the strange (yet admired) performing arts center has become more notable for floods and Jessica Alba's vandalism than anything else.
Here's more from Steve Lackmeyer's article:
Williams, a lifelong Oklahoma City resident, acknowledged the development is being pursued at the expense of a property he knows is treasured by the architectural and preservation communities.
Stage Center closed after it was damaged by extensive flooding in June 2010. The building was designed by the late John Johanson, an architect who studied with Frank Lloyd Wright. The building is designed “inside out,” and won accolades in the international architecture world and is featured in architectural textbooks.
The Oklahoma City Community Foundation gave the Central Oklahoma Chapter of the American Institute of Architects five months to find a buyer able to acquire and renovate the theater. That effort failed to result in any parties stepping forward that had financing for any rescue effort.
Williams said he would not have been interested in redeveloping the site had the foundation not completed extensive studies on preserving the theater and allowed the architecture community a chance to find a party that could renovate the landmark.
The theater is in worse shape than it was three years ago due to the theft of wiring and more flooding that occurred on May 31.
That's sad. Stage Center was a cool, eclectic building, but it's time for it to go. I know that some people praise its design and all that stuff, but what does that matter if the structure isn't practical or usable. That defeats the point of architecture, right? Plus, Stage Center is on prime real estate. I could see trying to save the structure if it was at Northwest Expressway and Rockwell, but it's in the heart of downtown.
Here are a few other thoughts:
• The Oklahoman is playing this up as a super huge story on par with the Devon Tower. It's not in the same league. I'm not trying to downplay it significance, but rumors about the new tower have circulated for a while. Plus it's only 20 stories. The Devon Tower announcement came out of nowhere, and it literally changed the look of our city.
• I'll believe it when I see it. Three things concern me about this project.
1) There's no anchor tenant
2) It's being developed by a guy named Rainey, and
3) Rainey looks like this:
Never trust a guy with a beard or mustache, especially when he's named after a weather phenomenon.