Developer Richard Tanenbaum has designs on a “Big House.”
The Oklahoma City Planning Commission has approved plans for Marshall Square, an apartment complex that Tanenbaum said won't look like apartments — the buildings will look like big houses — at the site of the old John Marshall High School.
The “Big House” design is a specialty of Dallas-based Humphreys & Partners Architects. Tanenbaum said he toured two Big House projects in Dallas and one in Tulsa — and that the gated Marshall Square will be a good fit for the former high school site southwest of Britton Road and Western Avenue.
The commission approved the plan over neighbors' objections. Petitions with more than 250 signatures were submitted to the commission. The 20-acre property, at 9017 N University Ave., is surrounded by single-family houses. The complaints focused on density, traffic — and affection for the old school, which educated generations of young people from 1950 to 2006.
Carol Tims, 1425 NW 91, told the commission the project would harm the neighborhood and that residents want no multifamily housing there of any kind.
“It's already a community there,” Tims said. “They're trying to put a community inside a community.” She said the area is fragile. “We're trying to come together. I see this tearing us apart.”
Attorney David Box, retained by Gardner Tanenbaum Group, told the planning commission the plan before them would result in 30 percent less traffic than Tanenbaum's first proposal, which itself would have meant less traffic than when the high school was in operation.
Box said the developer went back to the drawing board in the face of opposition to his original plan. Tanenbaum first planned a traditional complex with three-story buildings and 364 units, or 19.15 units per acre, while the “Big House” plan's 270 units come to 13.41 units per acre. All apartments will have garages, and buildings will have two stories, Box said.