Progress on the Oklahoma School for the Visual and Performing Arts is at a standstill for now as its co-founder continues to try to line up a location for the school.
Tulsa advertising executive David Downing, one of the two leaders of the effort to create the school, said he is still waiting for the Tulsa Development Authority to get back to him with the results of an environmental study of a TDA-owned site at the south end of the Evans Fintube property along Archer Street just northeast of downtown. Downing is seeking the donation of the property from the TDA for the school, but the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requires that the environmental study be completed first.
"I've left it with the TDA," Downing said last week. "They'll be letting me know when they get the level two environmental study done. At that point, we'll look at the proposal."
Downing said he did his due diligence on the site before taking his proposal to the TDA, including speaking with two previous owners of the property.
"I've not come across anything that would lead me to believe there's a problem," he said.
But Downing acknowledged he hopes the study is completed soon and that his proposal can get a timely hearing. Securing a site for the school will allow him and other supporters of the school to move forward with their plans.
"I can't go after fundraising (until a site is lined up)," he said. "There are certain milestones that have to happen before I can go forward."
Downing said he has not explored other locations for the school at this point.
"That's still my preferred and desired location," he said. "So I'm willing to wait another month or two (for the study to be completed)."
Part of what makes the Evans Fintube site so attractive, he said, is the presence of an existing building that could be used to house the school, he said.
"It's less expensive to renovate instead of building from the ground up," he said. "And I still want to stay downtown or in north downtown."
Downing did not rule out the idea of looking for another site, but he's not at that point yet.
"I could pursue a completely different location, but I'm not willing to do that right now," he said, describing the situation as being in a "hurry-up-and-wait" mode.
"If we have an answer in 30 days, I'd be amazed and happy," he said.
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