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Film Exchange building's fate awaits proposals for redevelopment

Several groups are interested in developing the Film Exchange building.
by Steve Lackmeyer Published: October 1, 2013

Three months after designers of the MAPS 3 Core to Shore park insisted they had exhausted efforts to try to incorporate the old Film Exchange building into their plans, a very different history has emerged.

A series of discussions with city officials, and comments by the designers themselves at last week's MAPS 3 citizen's park subcommittee meeting reveals that Hargreaves Associates never saw the building at SW 5 and Robinson Avenue as being a compatible part of a future park.

From the start, Hargreaves Associates wanted a clear slate, save for the Union Station. Every rendering, every plan they drew up envisioned not a bit of the area's history surviving beyond the historic train station.

What's interesting is that this was a decision left up to out-of-state planners, with no real input from the Oklahoma City Council, which is supposed to hold the ultimate say on policy matters and how major capital improvements are to proceed.

It was Councilman Pete White, joined by local preservationists, who in July put plans to demolish the building on hold. He noted that Oklahoma City is a city that tore down hundreds of old buildings during the 1960s to 1970s Urban Renewal era, and that the current leadership has the burden of ensuring it doesn't move forward recklessly with demolishing remaining historic structures.

Bradley Wynn is widely regarded as the local expert on the city's Film Exchange community and authored the book “Film Row.” Over the past several weeks he has attempted to rally support for saving the structure.

Wynn's research shows the building was the second of three to be home to the Film Exchange, which include Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Radio Keith Orpheum Distributing (R.K.O. Pictures), Pathe Films, Producers Distributing, Fox Films, First National Pictures, Vitagraph Inc. and Warner Brothers.

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by Steve Lackmeyer
Business Reporter
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter, columnist and author 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...
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