The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

16 May 2005

Not including shelves

Two weeks from tomorrow, Oklahoma City will auction off the old Downtown Library building at 131 Dean A. McGee. The city has set a minimum bid of $950,000, and The Downtown Guy thinks they'll get it:

Will the city get $950,000? You bet. The question will be what will happen to this property under private ownership. I could see the property being renovated into lofts. But its historic credentials are flimsy at best. Itís a rather forgettable 1950s-era piece of architecture, an Eisenhower mentality where function was more important than design (though certainly that thinking didnít prevent other stunning examples of Atomic and pop-Americana design during that same period).

So, if it were to be torn down, especially if you could get it consolidated with the old bank drive through next door, you could end up with a pretty great project in the heart of downtown. What would I build? Retail/housing for sure.

I think I'd miss the old Fidelity (now Bank of Oklahoma) drive-in: when it was built half a century ago, it was a model for the way these things ought to be done, and it still looks pretty good today. On the other hand, there's a real question of whether you can put up a big-enough structure on the existing library lots: the library itself was only about 64,000 square feet, which wouldn't allow for much in the way of residences (since you'd presumably need an adjacent parking facility), and while downtown retail is certainly something to be desired, the 100 block of Dean A. McGee (or the 400 block of Robinson) is not going to be the first place anyone looks for it.

One thing's for sure, though: we don't need any more office space downtown, at least right this minute.

Update: One bid received, below the reserve price: the city will now try to sell the building outright.

Posted at 10:02 AM to City Scene