Ownership of First National Center, future, a mystery

Ownership of First National Center and its future remain a mystery.
by Steve Lackmeyer Published: November 6, 2012

Whoever ends up in charge at First National Center still has challenges ahead. The building's historic barbershop (dating to 1931) lost its tenants in July to the Braniff Building at SandRidge Commons.

The building's vacancy is set to climb as the lease with Devon Energy Corp., which accounted for half of its rented space, expires next summer.

Windows remain broken, restrooms are still located between floors in the historic 31-story tower, and the ornate ceiling the Great Banking Hall continues to show signs of distress.

If the Neeman brothers truly have taken over First National Center, they will likely face the sort of mistrust that will kill any effort to boost occupancy levels. Locals feel they have been misled and lied to by too many out-of-state owners. Every downtown observer I've spoken to has said they don't see a revival possible without the building being acquired by local owners.

At least four respected local development groups were prepared to bid for the property if it went into receivership. Now that interest has, according to my sources, faded — perhaps with any hopes for a revival of First National in the foreseeable future.

by Steve Lackmeyer
Reporter Sr.
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter and columnist who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's Metropolitan...
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