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Film Exchange preservation plans are dead

by William Crum Published: April 16, 2014
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Advocates of saving the Film Exchange building and incorporating it into the MAPS 3 downtown park say their proposals are dead.

One group had proposed something along the lines of a community center with housing, while a second group floated the idea of an Oklahoma City History Museum.

“The city doesn’t want it in the park design and nothing we can do will stop its demise,” Bradley Wynn, a writer and urban archaeologist, wrote in an e-mail this week.

Wynn was leading the effort to open the history museum in the 90-year-old Film Exchange, a brick structure at SW 5 Street and Robinson Avenue.

“So we have moved on and are taking our development of an Oklahoma City History Museum in a new direction,” Wynn said.

“We have been promised, however, that the Film Exchange lintel will be saved and given to the Film Row Business District to be converted into a historic marker for the district,” he said.

Lana Beasley, who was with the group with the community center idea, said last week that her group would not pursue its proposal.

The park master plan assuming demolition of the Film Exchange was approved several months ago.

The preservationists, though, were given until earlier this month to come up with detailed proposals for saving the building and fitting it into the park.

Steve Lackmeyer has written quite a bit about the Film Exchange, including here, here and here.

Known as “Core-to-Shore,” the park will link downtown and the Oklahoma River, and is seen as a catalyst for development south of the Oklahoma City Boulevard.

The park consists of 40 acres north of Interstate 40 and 30 acres between I-40 and the river, south of Myriad Botanical Gardens and the MAPS 3 convention center.

The SkyDance pedestrian bridge will link north and south sections.

At $132 million, it is one of the most expensive of the MAPS 3 projects. Construction is expected to take $80 million of the total, and be completed in 2021.

The park is to include gardens and fountains, a “great lawn” facing a stage, a promenade, and a lake.

The master plan drawn up by Hargreaves Associates of New York includes tearing down all the structures on the park acreage except the historic Union Station railroad depot.

Design director George Hargreaves had said preserving the Film Exchange would increase design costs and delay construction.

There are no immediate plans to demolish the Film Exchange, said Kristy Yager, Oklahoma City’s spokeswoman.

by William Crum
Reporter
OU and Norman High School graduate, formerly worked as a reporter and editor for the Associated Press, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, and the Norman Transcript. Married, two children, lives in Norman.
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