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Stage Center: OKC planners recommend denying application for razing of old theater

Oklahoma City planners are recommending denial of an application to demolish downtown's Stage Center to make way for a new OG&E headquarters due to the existing building's “groundbreaking design.”
by Steve Lackmeyer Modified: January 9, 2014 at 10:10 pm •  Published: January 10, 2014

Williams released a statement Thursday night pledging to make the case that Stage Center cannot be saved. The application will be heard at the design committee's Jan. 16 hearing at City Hall, 200 N Walker.

“We respectfully disagree with the staff's recommendation,” Williams said. “We are confident that we have a sound argument for the removal of Stage Center, including multiple independent studies conducted over the past decade that show it is no longer a viable structure. We look forward to discussing with the Downtown Design Review Committee the ways in which our proposed plan will revitalize and improve the area.”

Protests against demolition were filed with the city by the Central Oklahoma Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, Preservation Oklahoma, and were accompanied by a petition signed by 735 people. Letters to The Oklahoman and the city have been sent from around the world arguing that the building is too important architecturally to be destroyed.

Before the theater was sold, the Oklahoma City Community Foundation conducted studies to determine if any new performing arts or nonprofits could be a part of a revival of the theater. After finding no takers, the foundation allowed for groups to submit redevelopment proposals with proof of financing.

Two proposals were submitted — one for an architectural museum, another for a children's museum. Neither proposal succeeded at obtaining funds necessary for a purchase and renovation.

Tracey Zeeck, who led the children's museum, said she will be closely watching next week's Downtown Design Review proceedings.

“I agree with the considerations. I think, from the work I put into it, it is globally significant,” Zeeck said Thursday. “It would be a shame to tear it down. It could be something we are known for if it were taken care of.”

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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Stage Center started as the home of Mummers Theater, a popular theatrical company in the 1960s that was outgrowing the warehouse it called home. With downtown undergoing a complete makeover led by the renowned architect I.M. Pei, the theater sought out a similar talent to come up with a design that would be just as eye-catching as the Myriad Gardens.


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