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Life set to return to the last boarded-up building in downtown Oklahoma City

Developer Richard McKown is preparing to renovate the Rock Island Plow Building in Oklahoma City into offices.
by Steve Lackmeyer Published: August 29, 2013

Long before Richard McKown considered building housing in Deep Deuce, his dream was to bring life to the boarded-up Rock Island Plow Building in Bricktown.

After completing construction of the Level apartments and starting work on the adjoining Mosaic apartments, both along NE 2, McKown is ready to start renovation and conversion of the Rock Island Plow Building.

The four-story building, 29 E Reno, was built in 1908 and is the last large boarded-up structure left downtown. It was on the verge of collapse when it was purchased several years ago by Phil and Avis Scaramucci.

Now the building is set to be renovated into offices, ending decades of dormancy.

“When Phil and Avis, the current owners, bought the building, it had a massive hole in the roof,” McKown said. “A third of it was gone. They rallied and rescued the building, made it sound, safe and watertight. They put it into time-capsule mode until someone could come along with a way to bring it back.”

McKown spent years trying to figure out how to first convert it into artists' lofts, and then into housing. But all renovation plans required factoring in the money already spent by the Scaramuccis keeping the building standing and a limited number of secured parking spaces.

The easy way would have been to replace the windows and simply lease out the first floor, leaving the upper floors vacant.

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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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