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Location entices couple to build house on narrow lot near downtown Oklahoma City

Ann and Brian Dell retained Butzer Gardner Architects to design a house that would maximize the narrow lot they owned.
By Tim Fall, For The Oklahoman Published: March 8, 2014
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Ann and Brian Dell lived for 41 years in a Mesta Park home built in 1914, before deciding in 2012 to put it on the market.

Forty years would have been plenty.

“Everyone talks about how well old houses are built,” Ann Dell said, standing in the light-bathed space that will soon be the kitchen in her new house. “But we spent one too many winters with those thin walls.”

When it sold, the empty nesters didn’t want a condo or a townhome, or a garden villa in a gated retirement community.

Instead, they hired a leading design firm to build a new house for them on an urban infill lot downtown at 925 NW 8, near Classen Boulevard.

For the Dells, the decision to leave Mesta Park and start over began with three simple considerations: location, location and location.

“We couldn’t imagine ourselves in the suburbs,” Ann said as she walked through the 1,925 square-foot new house, weaving through painters’ supplies as she visualized furniture placement and the decorating job that lies ahead. “We wanted to stay in the downtown-Midtown area.”

But, she said, “All the houses down here are old,” and she knew one thing for sure: “We didn’t want another money pit.”

Maximizing narrow lot

So the Dells retained Butzer Gardner Architects to design a house that would maximize the narrow lot they owned.

Torrey Butzer, principal designer on the project and co-founder of Butzer Gardner along with her husband, architect Hans Butzer, and Jeremy Gardner, said the firm has been focused on the development and growth of downtown since the couple was selected in 1997 to design the Oklahoma City National Memorial.

Building a single-family home that in its own small way “reactivates the urban core” is “the right thing to do,” Butzer said, both as a use of resources and as a statement against suburban sprawl. The contractor is d.build LLC.

Brian Dell said he and his wife were excited “to take a chance on moving into a new area.” But, he said, “It’s not that different from what we did when we bought in Mesta Park” back in the 1970s.

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