POSTED ON NOVEMBER 26, 2008:
Reeking of optimism, tour shows options are plentiful for downtown living
Good Morning, Tulsa. I received a personal tour of Michael Sager's new loft. He's kind of a big deal, if you didn't already know. Saw his bedroom and viewed the very vista to which he'll awaken.
I've worked several jobs in my life. One of my least favorites was working construction while in college. While many aspects of the job were undesirable, I do miss some. Being able to create a home like a human-size jigsaw puzzle is satisfying, although waterproofing or tarring a basement is not.
I loved working outdoors until it began to hail. I loved the physical demands; it let me work out my frustrations- until I'd take a tumble over the wheelbarrow, landing in mortar. That aside, the job did give me an appreciation for manual labor and homes, in general.
Today, I find myself critiquing certain aspects of houses. "Boy, oh boy! They did a terrible job striking that brick." Because masonry was the area in which I primarily worked, no one can slip even the most cursory of mistakes past me.
"Wait, you mean blocks. The small ones are bricks, and the large ones are blocks. Also, that's called a trowel."
Sure, it's obnoxious, but I only correct the mistakes I have previously made myself--ones I wish others had pointed out to me back when bricks and blocks were indecipherable.
For this reason, coupled with the fact that I enjoy seeing (intruding into) how other Tulsans live, I bought a ticket ($15 individual ticket, $25 couple) for the Downtown Living Tour 2008, a production of the Tulsa Foundation for Architecture (www.tulsaarchitecture.com). Stops on the tour included the Philtower Lofts, which I was most excited about, and the First Street Lofts now under construction. I'm enthusiastically aware of Tulsa's art deco architecture, so I seize any opportunity to expand my knowledge.
It started easily enough at the Gypsy Coffee House, a spot Cristi frequented during her teenage years and one I'll return. The building, owned by Bradley Garcia, represents my dream: urban living above a working space. I really dislike commutes. However, I don't know if I want it as badly as Bradley did--he removed over 30,000 pounds of gypsum plaster during the renovation process nine years ago.
The building is more than 80 years old and was once home to the Gypsy Oil Company. The third floor, which Bradley has turned into an eclectic bachelor pad, was once home to the laboratory, a fact hardly fathomable, except for the absence of windows. The only other minor indicator is the original brick, once covered in a sooty residue from the chemical tests performed there, on the south wall of the apartment. I touched the wall attempting to confirm the historical accuracy of the story. Clean as a whistle.
From there we continued our tour to the First Street Lofts, 310 E. First St. I received a personal tour of Michael Sager's new loft. He's kind of a big deal, if you didn't already know. Saw his bedroom and viewed the very vista to which he'll awaken.
The first lofts open in the spring of '09 and the building should be completed this time next year. There will be 12 single-floor and six multi-floor units in the development. Take a number. They're highly sought after. And all provide views; either of downtown, the Blue Dome or (one day) the Drillers' new downtown stadium. I dreamed a little dream; it was one of many during the day.
As my anticipation to get in and up the Philtower grew, I overlooked some stops on our tour. It was unwise of me, but I re-focused once I was touring the living quarters.
Reunion Center, once the First National Bank of Tulsa, 9 E. 4th St., is home to Ken Brune's law firm and abode. Brune, much like Bradley at Gypsy, has fused home and work. I envied Brune as I did Bradley, but the six additional stories and the location overlooking the Arkansas River and downtown Tulsa give Brune the edge in terms of view--that and the windows.
Our introductions went well up to the point where my greeting caused some confusion. I've been called a lot of things, but I had never been called Misaac. Mistaking Tim for Jim, yeah, I see that. They're both common names, but Misaac is a rare name indeed. So rare, I've never heard it. I'm not going to dwell on it though. I've written it here and I'll probably reference it in inside jokes for 20 months, but then I'll be right over it.
After the Reunion Center came a short jaunt to the entrance of the Philtower. All I'd heard for 10 days was the superiority of the Philtower portion of the 2007 tour. I expected a similar showing for the '08 tour.
The elevator rapidly delivered us to the 19th floor. We're here! I exited. I entered the 19A apartment.
Wait, where's the furniture? I can't inspect the medicine cabinet if there's no medicine and no tenant in the apartment. Yeah. Yeah. The view's great, but I want to see living, I thought.
The view was spectacular, but my interest waned rapidly. The apartment was petite. The windows were plentiful. Last year's apartment trumped this year's, and I didn't even see '07's offering.
Depressed over Philtower's 19th story flop, I climbed back into the car and considered my lunch options. Yes, we still had two additional stops, but I was deflated.
How is a third story apartment going to be the jewel of the tour? It's a question I didn't consider until I had my answer.
The Del Ray Building, 417 W. 7th St., is home to Cellar Dweller bar, Artifacts Gallery, and the most memorable living space on the 2008 Downtown Living Tour. Upon entering the apartment, I detected the aroma of soup. The owner was cooking. I felt like I was at home.
Now this is living, I thought.
The third-floor loft, once home to five offices, has been remodeled and transformed into a unique home. The grandiose apartment is as one-of-a-kind as the art on its walls. I'd easily get lost in a home like this, but with the scent of homemade soup filtering through the former office space, I'd never be worried. There's also no shortage of restrooms, as most office suites include a lavatory. The showers, one a tin spiraling shower and the other a romantic, candle-clad tile creation, were both recent additions.
The final stop on the tour was an apartment at The Village at Central Park. The park, one of my favorites in Tulsa, is the perfect location for a casual stroll. It also affords a delightful glimpse of the Tulsa skyline.
Ground broke on The Village in July 2000, so all the dwellings are relatively new. The apartment featured on the tour was modern and adorned with black and white furniture, walls and china. Everything. It was sleek and stylish. I vacillated between thinking I should either request a martini or swiftly get the hell out before I broke something.
The day reeked of optimism. I considered my past in the construction field and pondered my future. Will it include an apartment that was once a dentist's office or a laboratory? Will I have an opportunity to watch Drillers games from my window? Probably not, but I'm okay with that. I'm Misaac. I don't need a one-of-a-kind downtown living area with this name!
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