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Economy slows downtown growth plans

by Steve Lackmeyer Published: September 16, 2008

Office vacancy is down to 23 percent — the best since the oil boom of the early 1980s. Take out Class C space and one can see why Devon Energy Corp. Chief Executive Larry Nichols saw now as the best time to introduce a new skyscraper. Likewise, one must wonder what the arrival of 500 SandRidge employees later this year into the renovated former Kerr-McGee Tower will do for the north end of downtown's Central Business District.

More facelifts are planned
Older properties are continuing to get long-needed makeovers. Owners of BOK Plaza will be seeking permission at Thursday's Downtown Design Review Committee to renovate an adjoining garage that for years has had peeling paint and for months was marked up with graffiti.

On the same review committee docket are plans for a new Greater Oklahoma City Chamber headquarters. And as reported earlier this month, oilmen John Shelton and Charles Harding are proceeding with a $35 million redevelopment of properties along the north end of the Bricktown Canal.

Finally, the hotel building spree continues. The Hampton Inn and Suites in Bricktown is nearing completion, and construction is expected to start soon on a Holiday Inn Express and a Candlewood Inn (also in Bricktown). At least two more hotel projects are close to being announced.

If this is a slowdown for downtown Oklahoma City, what would a boom look like?

by Steve Lackmeyer
Business Reporter
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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