Since announcing their plans to build a massive mixed-used development just east of the BOK Center in May 2009, the principals of One Developers LLC have seen their project take a couple of twists and turns as it inches toward becoming a reality.
But none of those changes have been more substantive than the firm's recent announcement that the One Place project will be anchored by a $40 million office building tentatively planned to reach at least 15 floors -- the first such high-rise building to be constructed downtown in almost a decade. Overall, the One Place development has gone from a $38 million project six months ago to one with an $80 million budget.
For Bob Eggleston, one of the One Developers partners and formerly the construction director at the BOK Center, it was always important that the planned development have an eye-catching quality in addition to its status as downtown's first mixed-use project.
That was a feeling he shared with Rachel Zabrowski, the lead architect on the project from the firm Miles Associates.
"Rachel always said to me, 'That corner needs massing. It needs something to go from the BOK Center to downtown Tulsa. You need something striking on that corner,' " Eggleston said of the southwest corner of 2nd Street and Cheyenne Avenue, where the building will be located. "What's really exciting at the moment is we've had significant interest from other office dwellers who want to be there. The fun part at the moment is, how many floors is it going to wind up being, although at some point, you've got to say, 'Enough is enough.' "
And that point is just about upon him, Eggleston said last week. A flurry of recent activity has finally set in motion the long-anticipated development of the city block bounded by 2nd Street, Cheyenne Avenue, 3rd Street and Denver Avenue. In addition to the office building, the One Place project will feature a hotel, 55 units of residential space, restaurants, retail space, a dry cleaner, a workout center and underground parking.
Eggleston and his partners reached an agreement with the Tulsa Development Authority in March to develop the three-quarters of the block the authority owns. One Developers owns the rest, the corner where the office building will be located. Eggleston said once he has received the results of a recently completed environmental study of the TDA land, his group will close on the property, putting all of it in the developers' hands. He anticipated that might happen as early as next week.
In the meantime, he is putting together the plans for the 320,000-square-foot office building so designs can be completed in time to break ground by March 2011. The estimated completion date for the building is the third quarter of 2012.
"I'm obviously under extreme pressure to tell our structural engineer how many floors," he said, smiling. "It's going to be about 15 stories, but at this stage, I have flexibility ... It could be higher, but I have a short window."
Serving as anchor tenant for the building will be Cimarex Energy, an oil-and-gas firm that has signed an agreement to lease 220,000 square feet. Eggleston said he is close to having a signed agreement with another firm that would take up another 25,000 square feet in the building.
The first floor of the structure will feature a lobby and retail space, while the building's back side will open to a courtyard that offers access to the rest of the development.
"I think the office tower here is just a catalyst for One Place to happen," Eggleston said. "We have a demand generator here."
He was particularly pleased to land Cimarex as the anchor tenant, given the fact the firm employs 400 people in its current location in downtown's First Place Tower. In their search for a new home, company officials had sought proposals from locations throughout Tulsa, as well as surrounding communities, Eggleston said, and he is happy to be keeping those workers from going elsewhere.
"They are currently downtown, and we wanted them to stay downtown," he said. "We've been working on this for six months, and we are happy and pleased it's happened."
Eggleston described the construction time table as "ambitious but very doable," noting that the recent decline in construction prices -- costs are 10 percent less than they were a couple of years ago, he said -- serves as good motivation to get busy.
The location of the office building at the northeast corner of the block serves a definite purpose, Eggleston said.
"The positioning of the tower is sympathetic to downtown and the BOK Center," he said, noting that downtown office workers along 3rd Street will still be able to see the arena even after the new building goes up. "We wanted to maintain that view corridor. It's strategically placed, the massing of it, to keep that view open."
The building also is intended to change the perception of those leaving the BOK Center after an event, he said. As it stands now, patrons exiting the arena through its iconic glass wall have a view of downtown, but they must look past a huge asphalt parking lot to see it.
That parking lot will be a densely populated multi-use development teeming with activity by the time One Place is complete. One Developers already has an agreement with American Liberty Hospitality to construct a multi-story, 120-room Hilton urban hotel as part of the project. The hotel originally was targeted for the northeast corner of the site, but it has been moved to make way for the office building.
"This office building wasn't really on the (original) plans, so it's a dynamic, moving target," Eggleston said. "The plans are moving, but the intent is still there."
And the intent, as he has said many times before, is to finally trigger more development around the arena. After his work on the BOK Center, Eggleston took a strong interest in the surrounding area, and he has been sorely disappointed by the lack of commercial activity that has resulted. One Place is his effort to change that.
"It's very personal; there's no question on that," he said of his quest. "Being from an old city like London, you appreciate the architecture, the importance of a downtown."
He acknowledged being frustrated by the slow pace of progress as downtown Tulsa struggles to reinvent itself, but Eggleston said he realizes that progress in that regard is marked in small increments. One Place has an estimated completion date of 2014.
"This is a brick-by-brick deal," he said. "You get feet on the street, and you build it brick by brick."
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