Clock ticking on strategy for First National Tower

by Steve Lackmeyer Published: March 25, 2008
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year later, the barbershop — still adorned with black and white Art Deco tile and fixtures — stands dark and empty.

The barbershop, Hefner says, is evidence that the current owners have too much in common with successors who failed to retain the Beacon Club on the top floor and the Post Office in the retail arcade.

All of this leaves Yashouafar a bit chagrined. After all he's spending money to restore First National as a first-class office tower. And while he admits he doesn't understand why people might consider the barbershop to be a historic space, he promises he's committed to protecting the tower's Great Banking Hall.

He promises more renovations will follow — including window repairs, new elevator cabs and renovated common areas on each floor. His architect, Don Beck, meanwhile, has provided original architectural drawings that show the tower lobby floor initially was designed to match that of the Great Banking Hall.

The new floor, Beck said, will match those original drawings — a detail not made clear to tenants or at the groundbreaking.

But will these responses placate all the tenants? As the improvements continue, the owners have sent out new leases with rent increases and some tenants, burned by broken promises by previous owners, are not thrilled with the idea of paying Class A rent rates based on yet more promises.

The clock continues to tick. In a few years, a new landmark skyscraper will be home to Devon Energy, creating vacancies at newer downtown properties and First National itself. Only then will we learn whether Milbank's strategy of raising rents and phasing in improvements will have succeeded in ending years of decline at First National — or only hastened even tougher times ahead.

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by Steve Lackmeyer
Reporter Sr.
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter and columnist who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's Metropolitan...
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This rendering shows the proposed changes to the entry at First National Tower — including new flooring. Provided by Milbank Real Estate

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