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Supporters seek to save Oklahoma City's Stage Center

Preservationists and architects are elated that Oklahoma City planners urged rejection of a permit to demolish the former theater.
by Steve Lackmeyer Modified: January 15, 2014 at 1:00 pm •  Published: January 14, 2014

Catherine Montgomery, considered to be the state's leading preservation architect, isn't convinced every possibility has been looked at for bringing the theater back to life.

“We have so little that honors the performance arts,” Montgomery said. “We have the Civic Center, but it's a whole other flavor; it's a big space. This offers more unique and smaller spaces. Where do we have something that is geared toward community theater? That's what this was designed for. We could enhance that, and also provide it for music and continuing education for adults.”

Montgomery also wonders if the OGE Energy Corp. headquarters couldn't be built on the south half of the same block, which is owned by the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority. She wants to see the company look at whether it could incorporate the theater as corporate meeting space.

“When someone does a development, they have to spend money,” Montgomery said.

“And on this development, they will be spending millions and millions of dollars, and I think it's more likely for them to spend money on it than someone flying by the seat of their pants.”

Montgomery also argues that the time given by the Oklahoma City Community Foundation for redevelopment proposals was not long enough for ideas to be pitched and considered by regents' boards of area universities.

She also dismisses arguments that Stage Center, allowed to stand as is, would be a nuisance to the area.

“With more dense development to the south and east, that itself will help make it a safer place,” Montgomery said.

“The reason it's not safe now is there is nothing going on there — it's neglected, it is left alone.

“It's like the Skirvin. People were going in there and vandalizing that — it's like any other abandoned building that is vacant and not being used. It's not because the building is bad.”

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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Also ...

Committee is short two votes

The Downtown Design Review Committee will be short at least two votes throughout its deliberation of the Stage Center demolition application. Member Stan Carroll recently submitted his resignation and is in Europe pursuing additional education, while chairwoman Betsy Brunsteter is recusing herself because her firm, ADG, completed master site plans for the OGE Energy Corp. headquarters project. The committee will hold a public hearing at 9:30 a.m. Thursday at City Hall, 200 N Walker Ave. The committee's decision can be appealed to the Oklahoma City Board of Adjustment and Oklahoma County District Court.

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