A mysterious scramble is underway to empty the 11-story One North Hudson Building, part of a block of properties bought up over the past decade by developer Nicholas Preftakes.
Preftakes did not return phone calls to The Oklahoman on Tuesday. He owns all of the properties on the block bordered by Hudson, Sheridan, Walker and Main Street, except the city's 420 W Main office annex, Coney Island Hot Dogs and the now-closed Pizza Town.
His acquisitions on the block, dating to 2007, total more than $16 million. And while Preftakes has remained coy about his plans throughout the years, all indications point to a dramatic transformation of the southwest corner of downtown.
All of Preftakes' buildings are empty except the Union Bus Station, where operations are set to close and move to Eastern and Reno Avenues next year, and the One North Hudson Building. The few remaining tenants confirm they are moving after being told their leases won't be renewed when they expire in April 2014.
The Oklahoma Pork Council, a tenant leasing the ninth floor for nine years, is preparing to move to 901 N Lincoln, where it will lease space from the Oklahoma Blood Institute. The Hunsucker Legal Group, meanwhile, is preparing to build a new office building that will fill in a gap between Film Row and the Central Business District.
Roy Lee Lindsey, director of the Oklahoma Pork Council, said Preftakes told him the building is being emptied out as part of a plan to redevelop the block.
Preftakes bought One North Hudson, originally the Hotel Black, in 2007. And while he has engaged in some leasing activity, occupancy has dived at a time when similar properties have filled up.
“There were not many left in the building when they started work on Devon Tower,” Lindsey said. “As that work progressed, the Holder-Flintco people, their subs (subcontractors) on the Devon project took up that space. At the height of the project, the building was filled.”
Lindsey said that space is again empty since the Devon Energy Center construction was completed.
Lindsey praised Preftakes for allowing him flexibility on where he could move and possibly ending the lease early without penalty.
John Hunsucker, owner of the Hunsucker Legal Group, reported the same communications took place with Preftakes' leasing agents — with one exception: the firm had to move by April no matter what. He also has been notified by the Oklahoma City Community Foundation that his firm's month-to-month lease of parking spaces at Stage Center will not be renewed after July 31.
Cardinal Engineering, meanwhile, completed site inspections several weeks ago on the Stage Center site, where several sources have confirmed an announcement is imminent of redeveloping the property into a tower.