The company, currently located at 9000 N Broadway, is in the process of planning a move into the long-vacant Century Center Mall, 100 W Main, subject to ongoing negotiations, approvals and commitments for both it and the landlord.
“We’ve been working toward something very special for both OPUBCO and downtown," Pierson said. “We are hopeful it all comes together.”
OPUBCO would be moving approximately 350 employees and an annual payroll of more than $26 million into 67,000 square feet.
The building, built along with the adjoining Sheraton Hotel in 1977, was successful as a retail operation in the early 1980s. Stores included an F.A.O. Schwartz Toy Store, a florist, clothing and gift shops, a fitness spa and restaurants. But its occupancy plunged as downtown suffered along with the rest of the state during the oil bust that overtook Oklahoma through the late 1980s.
The building has stood empty for the past 20 years. 100 W Main LLC, an investment group represented by Steve Hurst, bought 115,000 square feet of the mall from the hotel’s owner, American Property Management, for $2 million on May 11, 2011.
Tim Strange and Andy Burnett with Sperry Van Ness/William T. Strange & Associates represents 100 W Main LLC. on leasing of Century Center while OPUBCO is being represented by Mark Beffort and John Cohlmia with Grubb & Ellis/Levy Beffort.
“We are very excited to have The Oklahoma Publishing Company move home to downtown and anchor such an important location,” Hurst said. “This repositioning of the Century Center continues the renaissance of downtown OKC into a first class place to work and live.”
OPUBCO’s move downtown would continue the recent momentum of companies moving downtown and complement other recent large employers who made a similar trek, including SandRidge Energy Inc. and Continental Resources Inc.
A modernization of the building will include replacement of the tilt-up concrete with a sleek modern glass façade and the addition of 400 parking spaces of structured parking above the office space and an adjoining upscale restaurant.
The all glass design, Pierson said, will provide openness and transparency both internally and externally. Passersby will be able to watch the state’s largest newsroom at work each day as well as all the activities taking place within its ground floor studio.
Digital signage outside the building will serve as a “town crier” for the community featuring live video, breaking news, public announcements, activities, advertising and promotions of civic and charitable groups.
The Oklahoma Publishing Company was formed by E.K. Gaylord to operate the newspaper and other holdings in 1903, and the newspaper relocated twice over the next few years before the construction of its historic, longtime home at NW 4 and Broadway. The building opened in 1909, just as the first skyscrapers began to emerge among the downtown skyline, one of which, the Colcord Hotel, is still standing across from the Century Center.