For the first time in more than two decades, the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority is entertaining proposals for office development in downtown's central business district.
Cathy O'Connor, director of the Urban Renewal Authority, said a previously issued request for development proposals attached to the construction of a new garage was recently amended to allow for offices instead of just housing as initially advertised.
Bids are due Feb. 18.
Design work is well under way for the 830-space, 10-story garage to be built west of the Hightower Building, 105 N Hudson, immediately east of the city's finance building at 100 N Walker Ave. — between Colcord Avenue and Main Street. The garage is the first to be built by the city envisioning private development on the top floors.
“When we issued the request for proposals, it was for residential only,” O'Connor said. “But because we were getting interest, we added office as a possibility. We still have residential as a preference.”
The designs allow for three floors of housing with a total of 60 units, or for about 80,000 square feet of office space.
“There isn't a lot of Class A office space available (downtown) that has parking attached anymore,” O'Connor said.
Commissioner Mark Beffort, a leading downtown broker and property owner, agreed that demand is high for additional Class A office space. He said Class A office space occupancy downtown is 97 percent, while occupancy for all downtown office space is about 85 percent.
Beffort also warned that by switching to office space, demand for parking spaces in the new garage would jump to 250 spaces.
“The reason for the garage is to meet the current need,” Beffort said. “We have a bigger issue there.”