Viability, economic feasibility to determine fate of Stage Center

Preservation Oklahoma is appealing the decision of the Downtown Design Review Committee to demolish Stage Center to make room for an office building.
by Steve Lackmeyer Modified: March 4, 2014 at 8:00 pm •  Published: March 3, 2014

The Oklahoma City municipal attorney’s office is providing the Board of Adjustment with just two questions to consider in weighing whether to stop demolition of downtown’s Stage Center theater.

The Downtown Design Review Committee by a vote of 3 to 2 approved an application by the property’s owner, Rainey Williams Jr., to raze the theater, 400 W Sheridan Ave., to make way for construction of a new OGE Energy Corp. headquarters.

That ruling is being appealed by Preservation Oklahoma, which argues the theater is historically and architecturally too valuable to add to the list of previously demolished landmark buildings.

To win that appeal, the memo authored by Assistant City Attorney Dan Brummitt advises that Preservation Oklahoma must prove the building is functionally viable and retention and restoration of the building is economically feasible for the applicant’s purposes.

Williams’ site plan proposes building a 14- to 16-story office building, a garage, and to solicit another developer to build a second building of up to 12 stories for either a hotel or housing.

David Pettyjohn, executive director of Preservation Oklahoma, said his group learned about the city attorney’s memo on Friday.

“We’re still evaluating it,” Pettyjohn said. “We have an attorney we’re working with and we’ve sent it to him.”

Originally opened in 1970 as Mummers Theater, the landmark was designed by John Johanson, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright and a member of the legendary “Harvard Five” (which also included Marcel Breuer, Landis Gores, Philip Johnson and Eliot Noyes).

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