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Surprise facade surfaces on once doomed building at Uptown shopping center

by Steve Lackmeyer Modified: March 27, 2014 at 12:00 pm •  Published: March 26, 2014

A building once slated for demolition and considered one of Uptown’s worst eyesores has caught its owner and future tenants by surprise as they tore off green-painted brick from the front of the former nightclub and discovered an intact art deco cast stone original facade.

The building at 2415 N Walker was for years home to clubs like Paseo Underground and the Bora Bora Club. Developer Jonathan Russell initially considered razing the building and a neighboring boarded-up former Texaco gas station and just renovating the main shopping center facing NW 23 just west of Walker Avenue into The Rise, an upscale mix of shops and restaurants.

“Before the concept of the shopping center sank in, we had more response to those two buildings,” Russell said. “It didn’t take us long to realize we were on the wrong track.”

The old Texaco is being redeveloped as “The Pump,” a bar and outdoor venue by Ian McDermid. Chris Lower and Kathryn Mathis, whose other restaurants on NW 23 include Big Truck Tacos, Mutts and Backdoor BBQ, eyed the former nightclub for their newest eatery, Pizzeria Gusto.

“We both love pizza, and the style I’ve always loved is the Neapolitan style,” Lower said. “It’s a certain dough, it’s a certain thickness, and the ingredients have to be sourced from certain places in the world. And nobody has done it here.”

The old nightclub was within walking distance of two of Lower and Mathis’ other restaurants on NW 23 and also came with parking. Lower also supported Russell’s effort to redevelop a block that was best known as the home of a hotel furniture liquidation store.

“We knew the Rise was our best chance to get rid of something that was an eyesore and turn it into a centerpiece for 23rd,” Lower said “The freestanding building they had was the right size for us, and parking was important for us as we’ve had issues with our other restaurants.”

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by Steve Lackmeyer
Business Reporter
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter, columnist and author 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...
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