“When we built our building, and as we started the Devon TIF to create Project 180, and to redo the Myriad Gardens, all the sidewalks and streets, we hoped it would inspire more development downtown … I really think this is just the beginning,” Nichols said.
Development of the Stage Center site, however, likely won't occur without some debate. The theater, designed by John Johansen, is internationally recognized architecture and is featured in architectural textbooks.
The theater opened in 1970 and was part of the I.M. Pei Plan that sought to rebuild downtown in the 1960s and 1970s. The theater struggled through much of its lifetime and closed for several years in the 1980s before it was renovated and reopened.
The building was closed again when it was devastated by floodwaters in June 2010. Arts agencies permanently relocated, the building was stripped by copper thieves, and building ownership reverted from the Arts Council of Oklahoma City to the Oklahoma City Community Foundation.
Kestrel Investments, Inc. purchased the downtown property in July from the Kirkpatrick Center Affiliated Fund of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation for $4.275 million. Start of building design and construction are dependent on approval of the demolition permit by the Downtown Design Review Committee.
Williams said he hopes to incorporate a tribute to Stage Center as part of the development.
“Our thought is that it will be something to recognize the architectural significance of Stage Center, and hope to do something that marks that legacy and seek ideas from the arts community as to what that might be,” he said.