OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — The former Oklahoma City Public Schools Administration Building at 900 N. Klein will not be demolished yet.
In a unanimous vote and without any comment, the Board of Education members voted to rescind their earlier decision to have the site at 900 N. Klein cleared until the district could entertain more ideas that they have heard since the demo was first announced.
This comes after Free Press reported the decision to demolish the structure, reported the response from residents in the neighborhood, and published the full pitch book we obtained that had been shown to neighbors in a presentation.
Some in the neighborhood were devastated that a very strong idea for repurposing the building into a boutique hotel and entertainment venue was being turned away when they thought it would become a jewel of that part of the city.
At least for now, district officials say that the building is back on the table for redevelopment after having given up on what neighbors and the McNellies Group thought was a strong original idea.
Superintendent Sean McDaniel talked by phone to Free Press after the meeting. He said that the single thing that caused him to recommend “pumping the brakes” on the demolition plan was “renewed interest in the property,” and in some cases from outside the district.
McDaniel said that the next thing that needs to happen is to have the property appraised. He didn’t think it had been appraised since he had become superintendent.
Without hearing what the superintendent said to us about that, Chief Operations Officer Scott Randall mirrored what McDaniel said about renewed interest.
“With the announcement that we were going to demo the property there has been a whole lot of interest in the facility,” Randall told Free Press after the Board meeting.
“Unfortunately, it took that to kind of stir the interest as far as the property is concerned,” Randall continued. “So we’ve had a lot of people that have reached out to us. They haven’t made any type of offers, of course. But, that’s what we’re going to look at. We’re going to be entertaining offers on the property and just see if we can’t get something with a market value along the Classen corridor.”
Now, the negotiations with interested parties need to begin in earnest, said McDaniel.
“It’s either going to be for our benefit, meaning we build on that property, or we’re going to have to get value out of that property that we can turn around and do something with, should we choose to build later,” McDaniel said.
He added, “We just want to have all of our options in front of us.”
Skepticism, measured hope
Some of the same neighbors we interviewed when first reporting this move were somewhat skeptical after having their hopes dashed in the first place.
This earlier report was about their disappointment and includes the plan they had become enthused about before the district nixed the plan.
“If the plan has changed, what’s the new plan? And who is taking on the leadership responsibility for the new plan?” asked Sam Fredrickson who has been a leader in the Metro Park Neighborhood Association.
But, then he said in a message, “I hope the talk is more than just talk.” And added that he is eager to see what the new plan is since in the beginning “Plan A” was scrapped by OKCPS leadership “10 yards from the goal line.” He’s interested to see the new plan.
“It’s my belief that money is the second most influential factor in this equation. I think leadership is the #1 most influential factor. I hope to see some real leadership. That’s what I’m looking for,” said Fredrickson.
Terri Hoersch, who lives very close to the structure that has been vacant long enough to draw transients in and become a problem for the district to secure, was not optimistic at all. Originally, she said she was all for the plan for the conversion that was nixed by district officials after the neighbors got their hopes up.
But, after the Board meeting, she wasn’t happy about the decision.
“I doubt anything will be saved and the people who live across the street will likely live with this decaying, unsafe structure for another 5 years,” Hoersch said in a message.
But, Christina Brightwell Thompson was a little more upbeat saying, “That is great!” when we sent a message about the board action Monday. But, like the other neighbor, Sam Frederickson, she wondered, “So what is the plan now?”
Last Updated October 3, 2022, 9:59 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor
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