View Full Version : Irving School gets new life

08-13-2008, 07:52 AM
Wow - this is great news for that wonderful old building and the Flat Iron district!

By Steve Lackmeyer
Business Writer
The old Irving School at NE 4 and Walnut, one of the city's earliest school buildings and once used as the state's Capitol, is being converted into the new home for Lawyer's Title.

The return of the life to the property is part of an ongoing influx of offices and retail into the rapidly developing Deep Deuce/Flat Iron residential district on the east fringe of downtown.

"We love this area, said Joe Robinson, vice president of Lawyer's Title and American Eagle Title Insurance Company. "With the highways nearby, you have thousands of people passing everyday. And it's got great parking, housing being built all around.

Through best of times, worst of times
The school has stood through some of the area's best and worst times. It was one of the city's earliest schools, built around the turn of the century, and was in use through the early 1950s when it was closed due to declining enrollment.
In 1956 the school was bought by the state and converted into offices for the State Insurance Fund.

Robinson said the move from the firm's historic home at NW 13 and Robinson was necessary because of the building's layout, which had employees and records located on multiple floors. The new home, meanwhile, allows all employees to work on the same floor.

Newcomers abound in area
Lawyer's Title isn't the only new addition to the area other newcomers include Evans Living Accommodations, which provides furnished corporate apartments, and the Wedge Pizzeria, which is renovating an old storage building at NE 1 and Central. A coffee shop, meanwhile, is being built at NE 3 and Oklahoma as part of the Brownstones at Maywood Park.
Brett Hamm, president of Downtown Oklahoma City Inc., said the mixed-use development in Deep Deuce and Flat Iron demonstrates that new rooftops ultimately are what's needed to bring retail into downtown.

Grant Humphreys, developer of Block 42 at NE 4 and Walnut and the soon to be built Flatiron at N 5th and Harrison, said the city's willingness to adjust zoning ordinances for downtown is also key to the emerging diversity of the area.

"The city is making it easier, Humphreys said. "They realize it's the way things will get done more often in the future.

Retail expansion still needed
Humphreys also predicted more retailers will join the mix of Deep Deuce and the Flat Iron districts in the future.
"I think we've got plenty of entertainment and destination types of retail in Bricktown, Humphreys said.

"What you have now are people who can walk through the community, and we need weekly and daily staples. I don't mean convenience stores I mean things that we tend to look to on a daily basis like a pharmacy, a grocery, household goods, home decor and furniture retailers.

"And I think we will see a lot more growth in this area, he said.

Such venues will find eager customers from Lawyer's Title, Robinson said, where employees are already looking forward to connecting with the surrounding neighborhood.

"It's a great area it's not seedy with people with shopping carts outside, Robinson said. "Employees can even walk to lunch.