Devon Energy Center ushers in new prominence for Oklahoma City as an energy hub
Observers say Devon Energy Center, which starts to open this week, is set to transform Oklahoma City's national prominence as an energy hub.
For the past 32 years, the address 20 N Broadway has been the only office address for Larry Nichols.
But with boxes packed and ready to move later this month, and with employees starting their migration this weekend, Nichols and about 2,000 employees are set to put a new address on their business cards: 333 W Sheridan Avenue.
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It's an address that observers say will transform not just the downtown skyline, but the city's overall place in the world. Standing 50 stories tall, spanning 1.8 million square feet, Devon Energy Center has captivated locals who could only see it from afar.
Roy Williams, president of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, is eagerly anticipating the effect the building's opening will have on the local population and the city's image on the national stage.
On Monday, the six-story
“Locally it's going to have a ‘wow' factor,” Williams said. “People have been viewing it over a fence, looking down on it, but not in the middle of it. Once they can walk up, kick the tires so to speak, they will be phenomenally impressed.”
The address of 333 W Sheridan, Williams said, will take on a personality of its own.
“It will be a hot spot,” Williams said. “It will become a destination.”
The arrival of Devon Energy Center is also seen a big step forward in solidifying Oklahoma City's standing in the energy industry. The Tulsa World recently surveyed 16 industry executives and analysts from across the country and asked them to rank the top oil capitals of North America. Oklahoma City was ranked third behind Calgary and Houston.
“If you go back to the 1980s, Denver, Dallas/Fort Worth, Midland, New Orleans — those were all ahead of us or at least tied with us,” Nichols said Friday as he surveyed the new headquarters. “Denver was ahead of us — big time. Dallas/Fort Worth was ahead of us, but not now.”
Nichols knows it's not just Devon giving Oklahoma City such prominence. With moving vans lined up by 20 N Broadway, the rapidly growing Continental Resources is lined up ready to occupy the space being left behind by Devon. A few miles north of downtown, Chesapeake Energy has built up a skyline of its own.
Office space filling up
Mark Beffort, the lead partner of a group that owns downtown's Leadership Square, City Place, Oklahoma and Corporate towers, brushed off fears a few years ago that the construction of a 50-story
In 2012, with Devon Energy Center opening, Beffort has seen his early confidence held up by a flurry of new leasing activity.
SandRidge Energy, a virtual startup headed by Chesapeake co-founder Tom Ward, had just decided to make the former Kerr-McGee tower its headquarters when Devon decided to move to 333 W Sheridan.
The company has grown so quickly that it is already filling up the 29-story tower at 123 Robert S. Kerr Ave. and recently leased two floors at Beffort's City Place Tower. Enogex, meanwhile, is in the midst of moving 400 employees from its longtime home at Interstate 44 and Lincoln Boulevard to seven floors at Leadership Square, 211 N Robinson.
Another energy company, Flogistix, recently moved into a floor at City Place Tower and is about to grow into a second floor. The energy presence downtown also includes Post Rock Energy, XTO (a division of Exxon), Haliburton and Simons Petroleum.
“Enogex and Continental Resources are a perfect example of what we thought would happen,” Beffort said. “And I think all of the midrange energy companies will continue to lease up space.”
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