The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

20 June 2004

We got your high-rise right here

For years, they sat by side by side, the Dome and the Tower, on the southeast corner of 23rd and Classen. The Dome, designed by Robert Roloff on a theme articulated by R. Buckminster Fuller, was completed in 1958, and was threatened with demolition a couple of years ago. Now owned by a local optometrist, the Dome is being refurbished, though its characteristic gold tint, weathered with age, will not be restored due to difficulty and expense.

But what of the Tower next door? Built in 1966, Roloff once again at the helm, it's a pretty fair knockoff of Frank Lloyd Wright's Price Tower in Bartlesville; it's in decent shape but is mostly empty, and a local developer picked it up this spring at a fire-sale price, suggesting that part or all of it may go condo.

This fits in with my ongoing notion that people will live downtown or close to it if you give them something distinctive, something secure, and something convenient. There aren't many high-rise residences in this area anyway, so "distinctive" is a given. The major disadvantage for downtown living has been the lack of grocers: the nearest supermarket to downtown is the Homeland adjacent to Mesta Park, at 18th and Classen. But it's only three blocks from the Tower, and three blocks farther north is Kamp's, eliminating this particular problem.

Security is another matter. This isn't a high-crime area, exactly, but it's a high-traffic area, which introduces issues of its own. And given the Tower's positioning on the edge of the Asian district, there's the question of whether its appeal will be limited to young Asian professionals, though there are easily enough such to fill up the Tower's twenty stories. (Each floor, reports the leasing agent, could accommodate three residences, roughly 1500 to 1900 square feet.)

I'm not looking to move there myself; I'm rather attached to my little patch of ground. But I tend to look favorably on plans to improve the general state of city dwellings, on the not-exactly-altruistic basis that if the quality of life in the central city as a whole goes up, so does mine; after all, I live around here too.

Posted at 4:15 PM to City Scene