See that weird little building Jessica Alba is vandalizing? It was part of a theater complex in downtown Oklahoma City called Stage Center. It was quirky, useless, and weird, but also OKC's only internationally acclaimed piece of architecture.
Because the local powers that be don't really care about our city's history, and show no interest in learning from the short-sighted planning mistakes of years past, the complex was recently demolished to make way for some shiny new boring skyscrapers to be developed by my favorite evil Oklahoma corporation, OG&E.
Well, at least that was the plan.
Earlier this week, OG&E announced it is scrapping plans for the new development, which means they basically demolished a historic building for no good reason.
OGE Energy Center, once an ambitious four-tower proposal that was to be built this last year on the former home of Stage Center, is being put on indefinite hold as oil prices continue to plunge.Two of the towers were already in doubt months ago as negotiations dragged between OGE Energy Corp., developer Clayco and City Hall over a request for millions in tax increment financing.
First of all, I'm going to pull a Regular Jim Traber and give it up to myself. When the development was first announced, I wrote "I'll believe it when I see it." Granted, that was primarily because the developer had a strange name and beard, but it still feels good to be right.
Naturally, OG&E (with the help of their pals with The Oklahoman) is doing what corporations in Oklahoma have been doing for over a century when looking for a good excuse to dodge accountability and justify poor decision-making. They're blaming low oil prices!!! Because you know, oil prices rarely fluctuate. They're basically the opposite of the earthquake-causing water levels of Lake Arcadia. They never rise and fall.
When Stage Center, a landmark in disrepair since 2010, was first bought by Williams in 2013, oil prices hovered near $100 per barrel...Oil prices were still hovering at $100 per barrel as the new renderings were revealed. Plans drawn up by Robert A.M. Stern Architects proposed the south half of the block would consist of 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...Just a few weeks ago officials at City Hall remained hopeful a deal could be completed but, with oil prices at $31 a barrel on Monday, the market is very different from where it was even a year ago.
Uhm, am I the only person in Oklahoma who knows oil prices are cyclical and about as stable as an Oklahoma home foundation? It sure feels like it. You'd think the big powerful energy corporations would have this same knowledge of the market's volatility, and only move forward with a project like this if they knew it could withstand both the good times and the bad. Ha. Just kidding.
OG&E is being a good sport about the whole deal and claims they want to do something with the land. Here's what CEO Sean Trauschke, the guy who's ultimately responsible for the company's terrible decisions, had to say:
On Monday, OGE Energy Corp. CEO Sean Trauschke announced the company is assuming ownership of the land, which was originally purchased by G. Rainey Williams Jr., and will beautify and maintain the property until an appropriate development can be secured.“OGE continues to have a need for downtown office space, and we were excited to be a part of a new building,” Trauschke said. “After consulting with developers, it is very clear that there is currently insufficient demand for additional downtown office space.”
Great, OG&E is going to "beautify" the project. I can't wait to see all the broken utility poles and downed power cables they dump there.
Seriously, OG&E can go suck a blown transformer. They should be forced to sell the land. Why should they get to squat on vacant property and flip it for a huge profit during the next oil boom? Are they real estate investors now? They have more important things to do like lobby the Corporation Commission, make their website compatible with Netscape, and figure out how to increase customer hold times.