Thursday, August 21, 2008

Downtown's Devonian Age

We were expecting Oklahoma's tallest skyscraper. We weren't expecting what is basically a thousand-footer; taller than anything in Dallas, Ft Worth, San Antonio, El Paso, Austin, Tulsa, Little Rock, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Memphis, Birmingham, Louisville, St Louis, Kansas City, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Columbus, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, St Paul, Des Moines, Wichita, Omaha, Denver, Salt Lake, Albuquerque, Phoenix, Tucson, Las Vegas, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Sacramento, Portland, Providence, D.C. area, Baltimore, Richmond, Norfolk, Raleigh, Charlotte, Winston-Salem, Columbia, Charleston, Jacksonville, Tampa, Orlando, Miami, more than likely Nashville, and MANY more.

The tower is a beauty. You all know the stats so far. 1.9 million SF, 3,000 employees, 54 stories, 925 feet (which comes very close to the tallest towers in at least 3 more cities) and 20th tallest in the nation. There's the grand 6-story atrium aligned along the "Harvey axis" which is an imaginary pedestrian spine that Devon is facilitating through Downtown. We understand that it will start construction about mid-way through 2009. The 400,000 SF civic addition. We know the CityCenter garage will be expanded to 10 stories to double the number of spaces. Several acres of park space between the tower and Sheridan. We know major upgrades will occur across the street at the Myriad Gardens. And I think we all understand what the tower itself means for our city, and that is that this will be bigger than any of us could understand. I still have some questions though:

  • What all will be included in the 400,000 SF civic addition?

  • What can we expect of properties bought up in Devon anticipation (Preftakes)?

  • Will the CityCenter Garage expansion match the current design of the garage?

  • To what extent will retail be incorporated in the complex?
  • Is it true that the complex would include an auditorium?

  • Is Devon already in talks with other potential downtown tenants to move into their space?

  • How will the tower be illuminated after dusk?

  • Will there be a lit-up cross, in the tradition of Downtown OKC?

  • How can the mayor call this a C2S anchor with a straight face? Is everything C2S now? Great!

  • Will Devon push for some sort of mass transit upgrade at the new location?

  • Is Devon going to place more stipulations on funds the tower puts in the TIF?
  • How soon are we going to begin to see the impact of the $750 mil project around the tower?

  • Will there be design regulations proposed for the Arts District to assimilating Devon Tower?

  • How soon will it likely be until we see the skyline 'fill in' around the Devon Tower?

  • Are we going to see a national press reaction akin to Oklahoma getting an NBA team?

We know that OKC wants to be a Tier 2 city on the level of cities like Indianapolis and Kansas City. And it's clear that some Tier 2 cities will take longer to catch up to, but is it at least debatable yet if OKC has surpassed a few Tier 2 cities, ultimately earning a Tier 2 place? Milwaukee? Kansas City? Indy? Salt Lake City? Who is to say that OKC isn't already a competitive Tier 2 city with an NBA team, a sparkling downtown, a growing downtown research campus, several good metro universities, a lot of economic growth, and more that we would have never dreamed of 15 years ago.

The reason OKC is not Tier 2 technically, yet, is because in terms of convention facilities, we're working with amenities that Tier 3 cities like Omaha and Des Moines would be ashamed of. There is no clear Downtown headquarters hotel, and our convention center is 100,000 SF-tiny, which means a lot of business is going to never even consider OKC for their meeting. Transit is utterly dark ages. We all realize this needs an expensive overhaul. In the next 5 years OKC will officially be funding a new convention center, a massive new downtown park, a light rail system, and several other amenities. Also don't forget that we already have a pretty decent skyline, and a pretty decent downtown that is bustling for the first time in decades.


BDally said...

Very nice title, this Devon Tower will add so much to the CBD and will enliven it even more. I can't wait for construction to start.

skye said...

Austin will have a 54 story condo tower finished long before this tower is finished. I was pleased to hear that they are going to submit plans for LEED certification.

Walker, Downtown Ranger said...

The really exciting thing is that once Devon breaks ground and the economy thaws we could see our share of condo towers happen around Devon. A project of the magnitude of Devon doesn't go without pumping serious momentum in an area.

skye said...

The Devon project is far more exciting and promising for OKC than getting a stupid basketball team.
It will be a shining example of what is possible here.