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Pros & Cons: Stage Center's future takes center stage

The pros and cons of keeping Stage Center.
by Steve Lackmeyer Modified: January 15, 2014 at 1:00 pm •  Published: January 14, 2014

The Inasmuch Foundation, Ross estimates, has issued more than $10 million in grants over the years for historic preservation projects. But he sees nothing that makes Stage Center a historic landmark.

Ross, who is also a board member of the John W. Rex Elementary School being built just west of the abandoned theater, is among those arguing it can't be saved.

“Even before the flooding, the building was obsolete,” Ross said. “People called me with ideas to save it. Most of the ideas, while intriguing, were completely unrealistic financially. You have a piece of property worth a couple million dollars. And then you have at least a $10 million renovation. A nonprofit can't afford to work with that.”

Ross said he's thrilled at the idea of OGE Energy Corp. moving its headquarters across from the school, and envisions a generous supply of mentors and volunteers ready to work with students.

He's not so excited about the prospect of a neglected, abandoned Stage Center remaining indefinitely across from the school.

“It (Stage Center) was built dysfunctional from the beginning,” Ross said. “Now it's obsolete. How do you deal with a building like that?”

Oklahoma City police records, meanwhile, show the property was a problem for authorities even before it closed in 2010, with a dead body found on the premises just months before the flooding.

Since 2010, police have responded to burglaries, thefts, disturbances and mental health calls at the closed theater.

“I recently drove down the ramp to the garage that caused all the flooding,” Ross said. “There are people living down there … there are people habitating in nooks and crannies. That's not what we want for downtown Oklahoma City or as a neighbor for the school or across from Devon. It's just not a good situation.”

by Steve Lackmeyer
Business Reporter
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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