The late Neal Horton is widely credited as being a visionary who saw the potential in Bricktown long before it became the state’s premier urban entertainment district.
Now, a group of developers say another Horton vision from 40 years ago – one that suggested the greater downtown area would span west to Classen Boulevard – is also set to become a reality.
David Wanzer and Ben Sellers, who bought the former B.F. Goodrich tire shop at 916 NW 6 earlier this year for $1 million, are set to begin a redevelopment that will include a breakfast and lunch diner to be operated by the owners of the S&B Burger chain.
“We started looking at it about five months ago,” Wanzer said. “It was a building I had driven past many times. I drive down Classen every day. It has great lines, a 1960s garage, and it sits on the west edge of Midtown and downtown. It has potential to be something special.”
Those “great lines” inspired the designs by Butzer Gardner Architects, which turns the former garage bays into storefronts and uses steel structures to extend the building’s presence at the corner of NW 6 and Classen Boulevard.
“The magic is in all the simple moves,” Butzer said. “It’s very typical of what we see in Austin — you use simple shades and a steel structure to pull it out and engage the sidewalk. You give it scale, depth and make it inviting. It’s really simple place making.”
Shanon Roper, along with S&B Burgers partner Bryan Neel and Aly Branstetter, are set to open as the building’s first tenant, a 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. breakfast and lunch diner, by late autumn.
“We’ve been looking for a diner to eat in, so we’re going to make it,” Roper joked. “We want homemade, fresh from scratch to the table, made in Oklahoma, locally produced food.”
Where S&B Burgers is a tribute to rock’n’roll, Roper said the eatery will feature diners in movies from the 1950s to 2000s.
Wanzer estimates they’ll spend another $1 million.
“The building is a lot larger than it appears,” Wanzer said. “The size is a bit deceiving — it’s 14,500 square feet. We saw potential to make a great multi-tenant building. There is great ceiling height in the garage bays, where we can make space with good natural light. There will be two outdoor spaces with protected shade and outdoor dining opportunities.”
Butzer and Sellers are watching the Sunbeam campus being built at NW 14 and Classen, Oklahoma City Public Schools moving to a former three-story bank at NW 5 and Classen, and Catholic Charities preparing a new headquarters on the corner of NW 6 and Classen.
A neighborhood of modernist design homes, meanwhile, has continued to flourish between Classen Boulevard, NW 6, NW 9 and Shartel Avenue.
“Classen is a major north-south arterial,” Wanzer said. “It is the western edge of downtown. And this corner is at a major east-west intersection. Classen has the potential, I think, to be one the great streets in Oklahoma City. It’s a wide, three-lane street. Is there potential for dedicated bike lanes? Is there potential for a streetcar? There is just a lot of opportunity for this to become a really great street.”