Wednesday, May 19, 2010

SandRidge — The National Trust For Historic Preservation Weighs In

A funny thing happened on the way to the National Main Streets Conference hosted by Oklahoma City on May 2-5, 2010, at the Cox Convention Center. The Main Street program is part of the operations of the National Trust For Historic Preservation with its national offices in Washington, D.C.

But this article isn't about that conference — but it did present an occasion that Jonathan H. Poston, Director of the Southwest office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation to be in town. And, as it happens, Preservation Oklahoma, the appealing party in the SandRidge Commons venture, is a Statewide Partner with the NTFHP.

Katie McLaughlin Friddle, Executive Director of Preservation Oklahoma, advises me that on May 5, 2010, representatives of both SandRidge and those taking issue with its proposal met in the SandRidge Tower for about an hour, and this article reports on that meeting and the position taken by Mr. Poston in its aftermath, and, with that, a new player has entered the scene.

Ms. Friddle said that, in addition to Poston, the following local people were present at the meeting on behalf of the appealing party: Katie Friddle, Executive Director of Preservation Oklahoma; Barrett Williamson, architect; Marva Ellard, President of the Criterion Group and owner & developer of the Sieber Hotel apartments; and Suzette Hatfield, Preservation Oklahoma Board Member. Those representing SandRidge were Frank Harold, attorney; another attorney whose name I did not get; Bob Rogers of Rogers Marvel, the architectural firm that designed SandRidge's project, and another local architect.

Friddle reported that the hour-long meeting was altogether cordial and that her group was presented much the same information that was presented to the Downtown Design Review Committee. She also indicated that nothing said during the meeting by the protestants indicated a willingness that changes be made to the plan but that they would be "passed up" and be given due consideration.

The guests inquired if they might be allowed to conduct some on-sight tour of the affected buildings, but the request was declined by SandRidge, citing safety concerns. No further meetings are presently planned, according to Friddle.

On May 14, 2010, Poston wrote a pair of letters in his capacity as Director of the Southwest office of the NTFHP. Both are shown below and you can click on either for larger views.

A thank you letter to Marsha Wooden, SandRidge



A letter to the Board of Adjustment, via its Clerk


Pretty strong stuff ...
The National Trust believes that these buildings, especially the "India Temple" building at 107 (111) Robert Kerr retain historic integrity and significance and that their demolition would constitute an irretrievable loss for the city. * * * We hope that Board of Adjustment will grant the appeal and deny the demolition of these structures.
Will the strong position of nationally well respected NTFHP be enough to carry the day for Preservation Oklahoma? Ms. Friddle informed me that Mr. Poston plans to be present at tomorrow's 1:30 p.m. open hearing in City Council chambers. At the least, high drama should be expected to unfold tomorrow . . .  we shall see.

Off topic but a nonetheless interesting historical tidbit: The building shown at right is the national headquarters of the National Trust For Historic Preservation. Originally, that property was the McCormick Apartments where Perle Mesta lived and hosted many of her famous parties in Washington, D.C. So, I guess that it's fair to say that the group has a rather special Oklahoma City connection, just as Perle does. See Perle Mesta - Hostess With The Mostes for more.

Related articles:


Update this afternoon at 2:30 p.m.: See Steve Lackmeyer's article in the on-line Oklahoman

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3 comments:

ryan said...

Thanks for the great post, Doug! I want to get invovled but I'm not sure what to do. Do you have any suggestions on how we can show our support for Preservation Oklahoma? Thanks!

Barrett said...

Ryan,
Please go to Facebook and friend both Keepdowntown Urban and Preservation OKlahoma.
There are links to both websites and you may make contact through that method. Thanks for yur interest!
Barrett

Doug Dawg said...

Yes, Ryan, what Barrett said.