The demolition of an East Village building that was supposed to be complete by the end of July actually could be finished much sooner, according to the real estate agent who is handling the property.
Brian Hunt, vice president of the CB Richard Ellis office in Tulsa, said the Fields Downs Randolph building on a 2.12-acre site at 519 E. 7th has been listed by his office for a little less than a month. He said the owner, whom he declined to identify, had declined an interview request he had forwarded from UTW. But he said she had been trying to sell the building for many years and recently made the decision to tear down the building.
According to the firm's listing on its Web site, the asking price for the property is a little more than $1.7 million. An electronic brochure for the property describes it as a "unique development opportunity in the heart of downtown" and touts its freeway access, utility access, visibility and zoning.
The demolition began July 6, attracting the attention of curious passersby and leading to a lively online discussion at the Tulsa Forum at TulsaNow Web site among those speculating what might be next for the property. By early this week, crews appeared to be more than halfway through the demolition, leading to Hunt's prediction the work could take less time than anticipated. A sign on the north side of the building indicates that Field Downs Randolph was a company that sold supplies for offices.
Hunt said he knew little about the building, other than he believed it was 40 to 50 years old and may have served as a dairy at one time. Several additions had been made to the building, he said, and it had been vacant for quite a while.
The clearing of the site appears to coincide with a period of renewed optimism for development of the East Village, a section of downtown generally bounded by East 7th Street on the south, East 2nd Street on the north, U.S. 75 on the east and Elgin Avenue on the west.
"All the sudden, there seems to be quite a bit of activity in the East Village, as the Brady Village is full," Hunt said. "There's a lot of focus on the East Village."
Hunt said an out-of-state developer closed on several properties in the district on July 7, including the former Bill White Chevrolet site at 401 S. Elgin, the Harrison Building at 418 S. Frankfort, the Parkade at 408 S. Frankfort, the Skelly Office/Warehouse site at 414 E. 4th St. and the City Tent & Awning site at 415 E. 5th St.
He described the deal as essentially including all the buildings between 4th Street and 5th Street between Frankfort and Elgin. Hunt said the buyer was not willing to go public with his plans at this point, but he did say the property most likely would go for a mixed-use development.
Hunt said the city is seeking bids on another bit of property in the area that includes an old fire station. The deadline for those bids comes next month, he said.
Hunt said he believes interest in the area--which has been in decline for decades, aside from a series of projects on 3rd Street that are largely the work of developer Micha Alexander--has been piqued by construction of nearby ONEOK Field and downtown redevelopment plans drawn up by Jack Crowley, until recently an urban planning adviser for the mayor, that highlight a variety of potential projects for the East Village.
Elgin Avenue, in particular, seems to have taken on increased attractiveness to buyers, he said, because of its potential as a main artery for ballpark traffic.
Alexander said he was not aware of any increased activity in the area, though he said he would not be surprised by a surge in interest in the East Village, an area he has championed for years.
"Real estate prices around here would indicate that things are moving onward and upward," he said. "That's the only indication I get. My phones aren't ringing any more than they have."
Despite all that activity, Hunt said he knows better than to conclude that large-scale development in the East Village is finally at hand. He recounts the many failed projects that have been proposed for the area--a Wal-Mart supercenter, the ballpark, a soccer stadium, a mixed-use development that included retail and residential space, among others--and even keeps an electronic file of newspaper headlines recounting the district's many disappointments over the years.
But he is hopeful that this time could be different.
"I'm bullish and excited about the area," he said. "There's opportunity for all levels of developers to do something in that area."
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