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. "He is looking to find the right partners. All options are on the table. Even beyond the buildings listed, he has a lot of property.” Brewer, Little added, isn't desperate to sell either. "He doesn't plan on going anywhere,” Little said. "He has a lot of passion for Bricktown, wants to see it succeed, and this is another step in his legacy.” Elsewhere, shoppers looking to possibly start from scratch may want to consider parting with $13 million for what has been dubbed "the Steelyard,” the former Stewart Metal complex in east Bricktown. Brett Price, also a broker with Sperry Van Ness, said owner Bob Meinders has had talks with potential buyers for the 6.8 acres. "We've had some action,” Price said. "But when it involves a developer, that takes time. This will take someone with a deep pocket.” Unlike the properties being sold by Hickman and Brewer, the Steelyard does not involve buildings that must be preserved under the Bricktown urban design ordinance. Little suggested the properties on both sides on Sheridan Avenue could be cleared and parking could be incorporated into any potential development. Hickman said he's interested to see the trend of increased Bricktown sale prices continue. Sales the past couple years included $4.2 million for the Bricktown Mercantile and $10.9 million for Bricktown Square. "People around the country are taking notice of what is happening in Bricktown,” Price said. "There is quite a bit of buzz out there.” But is the buzz getting out of hand? Brett Hamm, president of Downtown Oklahoma City Inc., isn't worried about the number of properties up for sale, but is concerned about the price escalation. "We're looking at just a few owners here, and it's not like there is a run of owners wanting to do something else,” Hamm said. "But we are concerned about the costs of the buildings and renovations. We want to encourage development, especially where many of the second and third floors of these buildings have yet to be completed. High prices have hindered that. Of course, the market is going to do what the market is going to do.”
Bricktown For Sale:•French Hickman: 29 E California, asking price undisclosed, tenants include Maker's Cigar and Piano Lounge, KWTV Bricktown Studio. •Jim Brewer: (all sale prices undisclosed) 103-105 E California, Hunzicker Electric Building, tenants include Raw, the Bricktown Ballroom, annual Bricktown Haunted Warehouse. 425 E California, Coca-Cola Bricktown Events Center. 115 E Sheridan, tenant is Half Time Sports Grill. 323 E Sheridan, tenant is Pure night club. 201 E Sheridan, tenant is The Mantel. 311 E Sheridan, tenant is the Wormy Dog Saloon. 4 E Sheridan, tenant is The Melting Pot. 319 E Sheridan, tenant is Spyce. •Bob Meinders: 600 E Sheridan, 6.8 acres formerly home to Stewart Metal. Sale price $13 million.