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All Shook Down: The Presley Apartments and Their Tone-Deaf Tribute

4:57 AM EDT on August 4, 2021

"Elvis was a hero to most, but he never meant shit to me…” – Public Enemy

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I wrote about the Ralph Ellison-inspired hotel that was being built in Nichols Hills? Apparently, Gardner Tanenbaum, the development company behind the renovation of the former Lincoln Plaza Hotel, read it and said “Hold my hunka hunka burnin’ beer!”

Located at 4445 N. Lincoln, the still-being-constructed apartment complex has come under scrutiny not only for its moniker, the Presley, named after that bastardly thief of Black culture—and the heist of much of it for his own hit-making ego—Elvis, the supposed king of rock and roll, but for the fact that much of its proposed artwork makes it seem like a segregated community.

Elvis, also, wasn’t an Oklahoman, by the way.

Brought to the attention of hungry area media by famed local musician Jabee Williams, he said that the complex, like the name, “doesn't reflect the community near Lincoln Blvd. and NE 50th.” And it really doesn’t, as anyone that has even remotely driven through the area could tell you.

From News 9:

"In the picture, the rendering what it will be, there was a picture of probably 100 people and not one person was Black," said Williams.

While residents welcome development, Williams said the eastside community wants to feel included in the future.

"We want our city and our streets to be nice and revitalized, but we also want it to be done with us in mind," said Williams.

That makes unequivocal sense to me. Looking at the artwork for the complex online and the lack of community it refuses to represent, it seems like Gardner Tanenbaum’s skewed vision screams gentrification almost as loud as stealing a song from Big Mama Thornton does.

Of course, you better believe that a well-crafted press release from them has a say in the matter too.

“Gardner Tanenbaum thoroughly believes in the economic growth on Oklahoma City’s east side. We have invested heavily and restored four dilapidated buildings along Lincoln Blvd. to their former glory which will serve the needs of neighborhoods that have been neglected for far too long. We purchased the Lincoln Plaza Hotel and Conference Center in 2011. For the past five years, we have been working diligently to transform this public eyesore that was abandoned, in serious disrepair, and in desperate need of bringing new life to a large piece of real estate back to the Oklahoma City housing market.”

Um…okay. That doesn't really answer the question.

But, really, how hard is it to make the people in your proposed artwork to be other than white? There are no Blacks, Latinos, or Asians, all people that I assume would like a place to stay in the complex. In this day and age, it almost looks—and reads—like a sales-sheet for a whites-only homestead. I can’t believe that no one else told you guys this…do you have any minorities even working for you?

And, really, I know that Elvis apparently stayed at the former Lincoln, possibly knocking up local teenage girls in awe of his notoriety. But, as times have most certainly changed, there are so many Black musicians—many even from Oklahoma, natch!—that the apartment complex should be named after and rightly so.

Mark this one return to sender, Gardner Tanenbaum.

_

Update: We were contacted by Gardner Tanenbaum's PR reps. They sent us a lot of renderings that do show some diversity and sent us the following statement.

Gardner Tanenbaum thoroughly believes in the economic growth on Oklahoma City’s east side. We have invested heavily and restored four dilapidated buildings along Lincoln Blvd. to their former glory which will serve the needs of neighborhoods that have been neglected for far too long.

We purchased the Lincoln Plaza Hotel and Conference Center in 2011. For the past five years, we have been working diligently to transform this public eyesore that was abandoned, in serious disrepair, and in desperate need of bringing new life to a large piece of real estate, back to the Oklahoma City housing market.

Gardner Tanenbaum has developed and operated nine multifamily developments in the Oklahoma City area since 2005. The Oklahoma City multifamily housing market is thriving and we welcome the opportunity to showcase this outstanding new addition to the Gardner Tanenbaum family of apartment communities. We offer outstanding customer service and a great place to live and call home.

We have spent a significant amount of time and resources to ensure that property imagery captures an inclusive environment.  Those can be viewed on the home page and throughout The Presley Apartment’s website https://www.thepresleyapartments.com/.  Everyone is welcome at The Presley.

Follow Louis on Twitter at @LouisFowler and Instagram at @louisfowler78.

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