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Devon is “encouraging” its employees to “voluntarily” sign a petition in support of demolishing historic downtown buildings…

2:36 PM EST on January 12, 2015

devon tower 3

Editor's Note I: Today we have a special guest post from The Oklahoman's downtown business writer Steve Lackmeyer.

Editor's Note II: Just kidding. I'm the real author of the post, but Steve should probably be the person writing it.

Editor's Note III: Can some photoshop wizard take the photo above and make it look like the Tower is keeping watch over Mordor. That would be funny. Update: They wizards have emailed.

If you've been following the local business beat, you're probably aware that developers want to build more tall shiny phallic buildings in downtown OKC near the Devon Tower.

As reported by Steve, the plan has faced scrutiny from the Downtown Design Review Committee because it involves demolishing old buildings in favor of a boring parking garage.

Via The Oklahoman:

The architect and developer presenting plans for a 27-story office tower were cautioned Thursday they will face difficulty getting project approval from the Downtown Design Review Committee if plans aren’t changed for a garage to be built across from an existing garage and downtown’s new elementary school...

The 692,000-square-foot tower, dubbed 499 W Sheridan, represents the first construction of multitenant office space downtown since the opening of Leadership Square in 1984. Tenants will include Devon Energy, which is currently leasing 250,000 square feet of space in buildings outside of its headquarters that opened in 2012.

Houston-based Hines is seeking to start construction on the development in 2015, and is seeking approval by the Downtown Design Review Committee to clear all but four buildings from the block bordered by Main Street, Hudson, Walker and Sheridan Avenues. The committee is set to vote at its January meeting.

Buildings to be torn down include the former Hotel Black at Hudson and Sheridan, the adjoining Motor Hotel, the former home of Carpenter Square Theater (originally Baron’s Department Store) and the Union Bus Station. Garages are set to be built at the corners of Sheridan and Walker, where the Union Bus Station stands, and at Main Street and Hudson, where the former Baron’s Department Store building is located.

“At the end of the day, those buildings, charming as they are, do not allow us to meet current business needs,” Pickard said. “What we’re trying to do as we develop 499 W Sheridan is to find a way to respect the best of those buildings.”

Yes, those buildings are charming and everything, but they do not meet Devon Energy's business needs, so they must be destroyed! Oklahoma City, one of the largest, most spread out cities in the US, only has limited space to build office towers. All Hail, Larry Nichols!

On a positive note, they do want to use the rubble from the demolition to help decorate the parking garage. That's a great idea. It's about as charming as using your relatives old bones to decorate your fireplace.

Pickard offered to salvage detailing lining the first floor of the former Hotel Black and Baron’s Department store and incorporate them into garages planned to take their place. He said the developer would try to put blue glass panels from the Art Deco-style bus station into the garage design.

The Downtown Design Review Comittee will have a hearing on the building plans and demolition requests on January 15th. Despite the committee's already lukewarm response, Devon is pulling out all the stops. Via its internal intranet site, they are now "encouraging" employees to "voluntarily" sign a petition in support of demolition. The petition, which includes employees names, addresses and probably fingerprints, will be presented to the Downtown Design and Review Board at its January 15th hearing.

Here's a screenshot of request that we've acquired via from the Ogle Mole Network:

devon employee screenshot

Yep, no big deal Devon employees. Just sign the petition. It's totally voluntary, and despite the fact that Devon will know who did and didn't sign it, they will not hold anything against the employees who value preserving our City's remaining bits of history over convenient parking. Seriously, don't worry at all. If you choose not to sign the petition that the company and it's executives really want you to sign, it won't affect your employment status or employee review or future with the company or anything like that. It's totally voluntary, kind of like those staff prayers at Tate Publishing.

Anyway, as we mentioned, the Downtown Design and Review hearing is this Thursday. It will be interesting to see how many employees signed the petition. If Devon employees are smart, and I assume they are, it will probably be all of them. And not because they agree or disagree with the project, but because they want to keep their jobs.

Update: Photoshop wizards have sent their photoshops...

devon tower mordor

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Devon tower eye 3

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devon tower mordor 2

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