Saturday, October 20, 2007

Pulse Check

Just dropping a line to let everyone know that Lost Tulsa still has a pulse, although it's a bit weak at the moment.

I have to mention a new Flikr photoset posted recently by R_Smarte_Pants. He managed to gain full access to the partially renovated Mayo Hotel. He captured both the new and pristine, as well as the old and decaying. Absolutely stunning! Check it out here.

It was a sad year to visit the State Fair and see that Bell's Amusement park had been successfully converted into a 4000 space car lot. I still couldn't find a place to park, and ended up skipping the fair this year. Call it a boycott of inconvenience.

The Camelot had a scare a few weeks back, when a pile of junk caught fire from a welder above. They quickly doused the blaze, returning the I-44 icon to it's regularly scheduled impending doom. Quik Trip will be building a special 500th store on this location, possibly with additional tenants on the property they purchased this year.

The dead mall, Eastland is finally showing new life as re-christened Eastgate Metroplex. New lighted signage has been built along 21st St and the main entrance has been completely renovated. Coca-Cola is opening their new customer service facility in the old JC Penney's section on the West end of the mall. Open house will be next week. They expect have have 300 employees working there by Christmas. Community Action Project opened last week with new classrooms and even a nice new playground built out on the Southeast side. Last month, the partnership that is responsible for the $45 million renovation/repurposing closed on the former Dillard's building and is hoping to close on the former Mervyn's space. This will give the partnership 100% ownership of the facility, including the massive basement beneath the entire mall. The Dillard's building is planned for conversion into a windowed, 3-story office tower.

Thanks to Sgrizzle on Tulsa Now Forum for the following article quote:


Eastland Partners pays $1.8 million for Dillard’s location
October 17, 2007
TULSA – A fine steel gray powder permeated the renovated entryway at what once had been Tulsa’s Eastland Mall. It pooled like desert sands in the waves of the protective plastic sheeting, clung to the bricks and tile, and formed murky clouds in the centerpiece two-story fountain.
Such was the all-prevailing sign of construction that grips the one-time shopping center being remade as the Eastgate Metroplex office environment. A casual inspection uncovered workers busy in the central corridors, inside former outlets, painting exterior signs, even trimming trees.
“We are on track for how we anticipated it would be,” said Director of Development Gerry Chauvin for developer Eastland Partners LLC. “But the truth is, we had two deals in place much sooner than expected. That raised expectations we would be moving faster than we had hoped – including yours truly.”
With their first year on the $50-million-plus renovation project nearing completion, Chauvin said the mixed-use project remains only 15-percent occupied, its reconstruction about 20-percent finished. But the developers will soon complete two key steps to advance their vision.
• As Eastland DP LLC, Tulsa County Courthouse records indicate the developers paid $1.8 million to Dillard’s Inc. for the chain’s former mall location, a 250,000-square-foot, three-story extension that Chauvin expects to transform into a Class A office tower.
• Another arm of Eastland Partners LLC expects to close on the 106,000-square-foot, two-story Mervyn’s location within a month.
These deals will finally give Eastland Partners control of the 1 million-square-foot mall and its 150,000-square-foot basement, expanding its ability to meet user needs even as its first two tenants settle in.
Coca-Cola Enterprises will hold a grand opening Oct. 30 for its 62,000-square-foot customer service center at Eastland’s west end. Chauvin expects that facility to ramp up to its projected 300 employment by the year’s end. The Community Action Program of Tulsa County moved into its 28,000-square-foot Early Childhood Development Center last week at the mall’s southeastern edge, near the former food court and Mickey’s bowling alley and billiards.
Those operations give Eastgate a resident work force of about 350.
“It’s weak,” admitted Chauvin. “But we are on track for how we anticipated it would be when we started.”
With one year down, working from plans by architects Kinslow, Keith & Todd of Tulsa, Chauvin expects primary contractor Hopper Construction Techniques of Tulsa to complete work on the renovations over the next two and a half to four years. He sets the same time frame for getting the complex to a stable leasing foundation of 75- to 80-percent occupancy.
But the work completed pleases Chauvin, from the restored fountain and the new stonework adorning the main corridors to the new roofing, wiring and entryways. With the old chillers replaced, on Nov. 17 the developers will use helicopters to install 19 rooftop air conditioners and heating units, marking another step in the projects development.
Clearing out the many abandoned storefronts also has given Chauvin the opportunity to give away many old tables, chairs, cabinets and other fixtures it otherwise would junk.
He is in negotiations with two potential restaurants to enter the facility. To protect their business base and not cannibalize their market, he doesn’t intend to add more until other potential offices move in.
“Our goal is to finalize a restaurant operator by the first of the year,” said Chauvin. “With our momentum building and the pending deals and exposure, we feel we are right on track.”

My favorite "acoustically perfect" venue, The Brady Theater (aka Old Lady on Brady) is getting closer a really nice renovation herself.

According this oldish article from the OKC Journal Record:

A group of Tulsa music enthusiasts led by Alter, founder of Tulsa- based Matrix Architects Engineers Planners, launched a capital funding campaign to buy and renovate the 93-year-old Brady Theater, scene of legendary performances ranging from Enrico Caruso, Benny Goodman and Fatty Arbuckle to Bill Cosby, Cyndi Lauper and U2.
Having completed a feasibility study of the Brady Theater, the buyout group Historic Brady LLC desires to not only restore some of its celebrated ambiance, such as the Bruce Goff interiors installed in the 1930s, but also to bring needed upgrades, including handicap access and environmental systems and wider, more comfortable 21- inch seats. While that promises to lower its 2,750 seating capacity, the remodeling would take advantage of unused supports made for a third balcony, adding a level to bring its capacity back to 2,500.

This will be a much needed facelift for the Brady that will hopefully bring in even more acts like the upgrade to Cain's Ballroom did.

Thanks for all the comments here on Lost Tulsa. They are both inspiring and motivating. Although it's not frequently updated, LT has become a wonderful time-capsule of places and memories, mostly thanks to everyone else's participation. Please continue to share your thoughts with all of us.

While I'm mentioning sharing, I'd like to make a request to everyone reading. If any of you have old photos or videos from Tulsa's past, please share them with us. I've had so many requests for photos of places that I never managed to take pics of...The William's Center Forum, Southland (and Southroads) Malls, the "shrunken head museum off 44", Malibu Gran Prix...the list goes on. I too would love to see anything that might be out there, sitting in someone's closet, just waiting to be appreciated by all of us. Please contact me if you have anything like this. I'd be happy to help with any digital conversion, if it'd make it any easier.

Enjoy your October!

I've enjoyed you blog. I was born in 1988 and have lived in Tulsa County (Broken Arrow to be specific) all my life. I love to hear history of this area.

Keep it up!

P.S. Could you post about your MAME cabinet? I came across one of your old posts where you mentioned it. I would be interested to see pictures of it. I've been thinking about building one... Any tips?

I missed out on the arcade years. I wish I could have experienced the old arcades.
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