For more than a decade, French Hickman has reigned over Bricktown as one of its major property owners — shaping and guiding much of the entertainment district's development in the post-MAPS era.
But today both he and fellow veteran property owner Jim Brewer are among major property owners selling some of their most prominent holdings — if the price is right.
Hickman is selling the Oklahoma Hardware Building, 29 E California, the largest of his four properties along the Bricktown Canal.
"I'm just wanting to downsize a little,” Hickman said. "I'm not certain this is the ideal time, but it's certainly not a bad time to do it.”
Hickman adds this sale doesn't mean he's selling out completely. He still lives in the loft he and wife Theresa share with their two children atop the Kingman Building, 100 E California. And as "Doc Blues,” he still plays with his band at his club, the Biting Sow, 1 E California Ave.
Hickman thinks the Oklahoma Hardware Building may be the most attractive prospect for development. He said the building was renovated several years ago, so a new owner won't have to install elevators or make major changes to meet code requirements.
"The easiest development would be in the basement on the canal level, where you could finish out the space and build on a deck,” Hickman said. "That would increase the worth of the building and give a prospective buyer something to do with it ... the difficult part of the renovations is complete. What's left is the fun part.”
That fun part, Hickman said, could involve converting the top floor into condominiums.
"Seeing how The Centennial (in Lower Bricktown) sold out, this could be turned into one magnificent or two or three great lofts,” he said.
Like Hickman, Brewer has no intention of leaving Bricktown but is looking to sell to the right buyer, said Jason Little, a broker with Sperry Van Ness. And both men have seen their property values skyrocket since the city's Metropolitan Area Projects program added a ballpark, canal and arena to the entertainment district.
Brewer, who bought his first properties in Bricktown more than 20 years ago, is selling nine buildings.
"Jim has a large inventory in Bricktown and is looking to take it to the next level,” Little said.