Roy Oliver bought City Place, the historic 33-story skyscraper in downtown Oklahoma City, this week and plans improvements, including seven apartments on the top floors. Oliver paid $4 million for the 329,830-square-foot building — 294,000 square feet rentable — at 204 N Robinson, valued at $5.5 million by the county. The office tower, constructed in 1931 by oilman Walter Ramsey, has been the home of Globe Life & Accident Insurance Co. since the 1970s. Globe Life continues to occupy about 50,000 square feet on a long-term lease, said Mark Beffort of Grubb & Ellis-Levy Beffort, who handled the transaction. No one at Globe Life could be reached for comment.
Why he bought itOliver said City Place complements the rest of his office portfolio in Oklahoma City, which includes four downtown and two suburban buildings. "We don’t expect there to be a huge financial gain with that building,” he said, but its architecture, history and potential made it attractive. Beffort said the Depression-era City Place, was a good investment, especially since it doesn’t compete with Oliver’s other, newer buildings. Keeping Globe Life as a tenant, Beffort said, lends strength to the investment. Globe Life plans to "right size” its occupancy, consolidating to the basement and third, fourth and fifth floors.
BackgroundCity Place, originally known as Ramsey Tower, designed by Clair F. Drury, "is Oklahoma City’s best example of the architectural style used for skyscrapers built during the late 1920s and early 1930s,” according to information in 1980 and at the Historic Preservation Office. The record further describes the building: "With a series of setbacks and vertically aligned bays of windows, that style represents a transition in multistoried construction. The architectural significance is enhanced by the building’s historical heritage, for it was constructed as a result of the Oklahoma City oil boom ... "... the plans specified a building which would offer maximum floor space, but not visually intimidating. This latter element was important, for most Oklahoma City citizens in 1930 had to be acclimated to the awe-inspiring height of new buildings made possible by new construction techniques. "The Ramsey Tower’s setbacks gave the visual impression of stability and strength. Today’s skyscrapers rise in straight vertical lines, a design that would not have been accepted in 1930.”
Floor by floorCity Place’s stories get smaller as they get higher, like most skyscrapers of the era when it was built in 1930-1931. →First floor — about 12,000 rentable square feet. →Two to 12 — 15,000 square feet. →13 to 15 — 13,000 square feet. →16 to 30 — 5,000 square feet (to be apartments). →31-32 — 3,000 square feet (apartments). →33 — 2,500 square feet (apartment).
• Ralph L. Reece and John N. Singletary, "two college fraternity brothers with $500 in borrowed money,” founded an insurance company in Oklahoma City in the late 1940s, known as Globe Life & Accident Insurance Co. by the early 1950s.
• Globe Life today is a wholly owned subsidiary of McKinney, Texas-based Torchmark Corp..
• Globe Life has more than $48 billion of insurance in force on 3.3 million policies. Source: The Oklahoman archives, www.globeontheweb.com