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A Closer Look at Plans for First National

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A look at the proposed new garage and ground floor retail along Park Avenue at night. ADG.
A look at the proposed new garage and ground floor retail along Park Avenue at night. ADG.

Today was a busy day that started with really bad news (the halting of development on OGE Energy Center) and good news (a sale contract signed for First National with people who are neither crazy, criminal or just idiots). 

We also know the development team, led by Gary Brooks and Charlie Nicholas, have an idea of what needs to be done. For the first time in the history of First National, we have potential owners who know a band-aid approach won't work in bringing the property back to life. It's all or nothing, and the price tag for all or nothing is likely to exceed $200 million. This will be a Skirvin-like redevelopment without a doubt employing all the public-private resources and brain power possible.

Let's take a closer look at what the guys are proposing:

The plan is one most smart folks have looked at for the past dozen years. The Great Banking Hall is begging to become a public space, not just a hotel lobby, but something grand. The space itself will need millions for restoration of the ceilings, murals, windows and side rooms. Brooks told me he knows programming and design will be critical in doing something worthy of the space. This will be fun in itself to watch being planned out and designed. 

The hotel will incorporate a little known feature in the historic building - a ready-made atrium space for hotel rooms to look into the space above the Great Banking Hall. That black surface you see protects the glass atrium above the Great Banking Hall. Will the designers seek to alter this design as part of having rooms open up to this area? They're going to do something here - and this is another design challenge/ I eagerly await to see addressed.

This rooftop pool, if realized, will be an amazing amenity for both residents and hotel guests.

The city's efforts to turn Park Avenue into a true retail corridor will get a big boost if these plans are realized.

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Steve Lackmeyer

Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter, columnist and author who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's... Read more ›

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