David Box, who bought the landmark Gold Dome at auction in September, is seeking to demolish the building after determining it is “prohibitively expensive” to renovate.
City records show Box attempted Wednesday to apply for the demolition permit but was advised he first would need to get a certificate of approval from the city's Urban Design Committee.
“We applied for a demolition permit to see if we could get it,” Box said.
“We were told we need to go to the Urban Design board, and now we need to see if we want to pursue that course.”
Box, also owner of the Greens Country Club and Box Talent, bought the building for $800,000 after it was seized in foreclosure by Bank 7 from the prior owner, Dr. Irene Lam.
Box on Thursday would not disclose whether he had a future development planned for the site, which is at the heavily traveled intersection of NW 23, Classen Boulevard and Western Avenue.
When Box bought the building, he promised he had no intent of tearing it down, though he added he had no plan for the property. He said at the time he did “due diligence” and was familiar with the building's maintenance challenges. He said existing leases would be considered.
A month after the purchase, however, all tenants were vacated from the property.
Box said Thursday he encountered unexpected challenges with the building's roof and mechanical systems.
“The more I got into it, the more problems I found,” Box said.
When the Gold Dome was built at NW 23 and Classen in 1958, the two-story building with the familiar round anodized aluminum roof was touted by Citizens Bank as “the bank of tomorrow.”
The Gold Dome was designed by Robert B. Roloff of the Oklahoma architecture firm Bailey, Bozalis, Dickinson & Roloff in collaboration with Kaiser Aluminum Corp. The building was based on the geodesic design by noted inventor, architect and engineer Buckminster Fuller.
The building's fortunes faded as the property experienced a series of bank tenants that either failed or were acquired by larger bank chains. It was targeted for demolition in 2001 by then-owner Bank One, which was planning to sell the corner to Walgreens.
Months of protests by preservationists and neighbors prompted the bank to reconsider the transaction. The building was sold in 2003 to Lam, an optometrist, who obtained a $1 million federal grant through the city to renovate the Gold Dome into a mixed-use office and retail complex.
The building's upkeep became a problem, and Lam fell behind in her mortgage and property taxes as she lost tenants during the Great Recession of 2009. Lam declined to comment Thursday about Box's demolition plans.
Box said Thursday he is willing to sell the property to a buyer who has the means to make needed repairs and renovations and adapt it for reuse.
Oklahoma City Planning Director Russell Claus said he expects Box's application with the Urban Design Committee will be heavily scrutinized. While under the ownership of Lam, the Gold Dome was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
“It adds another level of consideration,” Claus said. “It's an official recognition of its historic value. It raises the value of that building.”
Randy Floyd, an architect who helped lead successful protests against Bank One, was shocked by news of Box's intentions and predicted he will face a fight.
“It makes me sick to my stomach to think it would be gone,” Floyd said. “I can't imagine anything put on that spot that would cause the kind of passion that people have for that building. I think people will want to rise up again. I can't imagine anyone has lost attraction to that building over these few years.”