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Patrick
03-09-2006, 07:40 PM
address=425 NW 23rd (http://goo.gl/maps/FVIBv)
owner=David Wanzer, Ben Sellers
cost=$3,000,000
sq. feet=25,400

http://www.okctalk.com/images/wikiphotos/tower1.jpg
Information & Latest News

July 15, 1937: Opened for business
January 16, 1985: Last box office movie shown
November 2005: Property purchased by Scott Fife, Marty Dillon, Matt Goad and Terri Sadler-Goad
May 2009: Sign renovation begins in earnest
July 2009: Dillon announces plans to move his Party Galaxy business to 3,000 s.f. on the 2nd floor
December 1, 2009: Sign illuminated once more
July 13, 2011: Announcement that Deep Fork restaurant group will lease 4,500 s.f. and operate two restaurant concepts plus a bar on the ground level
December 16, 2011: Renovation plans submitted to Urban Design Committee
December 20, 2011: $800,000 building permit issued
November 11, 2012: Dillon said Tuesday his latest plan is to renovate the building in phases, starting with renovation of the street level retail and office space first, and then developing the theater at a later time.


Links
County Assessor Record (http://www.oklahomacounty.org/assessor/Searches/AN-R.asp?ACCOUNTNO=R046601280)
Doug Loudenback article (http://dougdawg.blogspot.com/2009/09/tower-theatre.html)
Gallery

Jack
03-09-2006, 08:53 PM
Why bother renovating a run down building like this? A brand new building could be built in its place for much cheaper.

floater
03-09-2006, 09:06 PM
I can't wait to see that Tower sign lit up. Like others have said, 23rd is an uncelebrated asset; the funkiest street in OKC, with all sorts of unique businesses. I think of how the Will Rogers symbolizes the resurgence of N Western, and how the Tower can do the same for 23rd. If we added some quality unique retail for at least a third mile, we'd have another bona fide inner city destination.

jbrown84
03-09-2006, 09:58 PM
Why bother renovating a run down building like this? A brand new building could be built in its place for much cheaper.

Weren't you just a couple threads over complaining about how bad a new strip mall development looked? I completely disagree. This is a neat, historical landmark and I'm very glad it's being preserved.

Jack
03-09-2006, 10:06 PM
Yes, I was. I don't like strip malls either. There are newer unique buildings. Look at Leadership Square.

Jack
03-09-2006, 10:06 PM
Personally, I think the Tower Theater looks like a dump as well as the shopping center around it.

John
03-09-2006, 10:09 PM
Personally, I think the Tower Theater looks like a dump as well as the shopping center around it.

The Tower Theater project includes the shops around it, as well as a parking lot across the street. It will be done the right way and end up as something similar to what the Will Rogers Theater/Sushi Neko/Cafe NOVA area is today.

Patrick
03-09-2006, 10:10 PM
Personally, I think the Tower Theater looks like a dump as well as the shopping center around it.

That's why it's being renovated, Jack. It will look nice and help revive that area and the Paseo.

Patrick
03-09-2006, 10:11 PM
There are newer unique buildings. Look at Leadership Square.

New buildings simply aren't the same as older buildings. You really think someone now would put all of the money and effort into the architecture on the Tower Theater? I doubt it.

The Old Downtown Guy
03-10-2006, 08:28 AM
Why bother renovating a run down building like this? A brand new building could be built in its place for much cheaper.

Jack, could you please post your construction vs rehab budget numbers so that I could achieve the remarkable level of insight and understanding that you have.

If my recollection is correct, this is the third unique OKC building that, in your esteemed opinion, should hit the deck. Only seven more selections and you will have your top ten list ready to publish.

Midtowner
03-10-2006, 09:46 AM
I'm pessimistic here. The Dollar General and the other "clothing" store next door are not going to help this place blossom. I wouldn't recommend anyone invest anything into this project unless something could be done about those other two businesses.

Urban Pioneer
03-10-2006, 09:53 AM
It perhaps is the catalyst that the area needs. The city spent all of that money on a street scape for 23rd and is still a ghetto. However, it may become an interesting district as the tattoo shop blatantly disregards the law and attracts people from all over for tattoos and piercings. The Tower Theater is going to need a great deal of work from the photographs I saw. However, apparently the people who own it have the money. So I say let them spend it and support them as much as possible. Cheever's is right around the corner and rates (I believe) in the top 10 for food in OKC. They're right in the ghetto too and that hasn't scared anyone from going there.

Patrick
03-10-2006, 11:10 AM
I put up my top 15 list as a joke, but I didn't want to give Jack any fuel, so I decided to remove it. I think destroying any historic building at this point is completely against the mission we're trying to go forward with in this city.

fife
03-10-2006, 11:29 AM
Thanks for the support of the Tower Theater (www.okctower.com)project! We, The Uptown Development Group, feel this area is poised for a come back. No other street in Oklahoma can boast a major university and the State Capitol, both within 1.5 miles of the Tower. It is true the project will require a lot of work, but to see this historically significant area, on the original Route 66, thrive again, will be worth it. Plesae note the Dollar General store is 1 block East. If any one is interested in touring the historic theater please let us know.

Thank you,

Scott Fife
The Uptown Development Group
info@okctower.com

Jack
03-10-2006, 11:34 AM
Actually, like always, I was trying to stir debate here. Glad to see everyone in support of historic preservation.

Patrick
03-10-2006, 11:39 AM
Hey Scott, thanks for posting. I think we're all pretty excited to hear about the resurrection of the midtown area. As floater said, 23rd Street is one of the most unique streets in OKC, mostly because of the historic structures and history in the area. Structures like The Tower Theater, the Gold Dome, etc. are key landmarks in the area, that add to the general nostaligia of the area. We're looking forward to the ressurgence of the Tower Theater, and the area around it.

The Old Downtown Guy
03-10-2006, 12:19 PM
Actually, like always, I was trying to stir debate here. Glad to see everyone in support of historic preservation.

Jack, IMO your approach to stiring debate is a little like standing in the airport secutity line and as a joke whispering to the person in front of you that you hope they don't find the bomb in your sneaker. It attracts attention, but isn't very worthwhile or productive.

The Tower Theatre thread was already under way, so what's the point of the wrecking ball remark?

The only hope for the eventual revitilization of 23rd Street is the change to more thoughtful and progressive building owners. The new Tower group represent exactly the kind of approach needed. The Dollar Store, Wig Shop, junky auto repair and convenience stores nearby will be replaced by others that more closely mirror the changes in the surrounding neighborhoods over time . . . lots of time.

Also on same block of 23rd Street as the Tower Theatre, Architect Sam Gresham has moved his offices into the second floor of the building he owns at 400 NW 23rd Street. He has been working on the rehab of that corner for several years. It's good to see these long vacant and delapidated buildings being returned to use.

escan
03-10-2006, 12:49 PM
Scott-

Glad to see it! As an OCU graduate and a resident (just a little north), I'll be ecstatic to see the area renovated! There are plenty of wonderful things about 23rd street and hopefully this will be yet another.

keving
03-10-2006, 02:06 PM
If any one is interested in touring the historic theater please let us know.

I think it would be pretty interesting to tour the theater to get a before and after view of things.

jbrown84
03-10-2006, 02:06 PM
What is the route of the old Route 66 through the metro? I thought it came in on 2nd Street in Edmond, then made it's way down to 39th and straight west.

BDP
03-10-2006, 03:27 PM
23rd street has a lot of potential and it stands to be more urabn feeling than bricktown. I think this is the true anecdote to the "brictktown blues" that Patrick expressed on another thread. Bricktown has drawn a lot more attention to the inner city, but also has done much to sterilize it. The redevelopment of "Uptown" will connect some of the cities best areas. What some here call a Ghetto, I see as sandwiched right between our most upscale neighborhood and the center of our creative citizens. With this project, this group can turn what many consider an area that divides our historic neighborhoods into an area that anchors it. My hope is that it can help foster more interesting and unique local businesses as well as inspire some renovations on some great properties that immediately surround it. I think it's projects like these, even more so than Bricktown, that give a city true charcter with real neighborhoods. in my mind it's just sitting there waiting and just needs a little push.

And even if the dreams don't get that far, hopefully we will at least get a nice new venue that actually (GASP) sounds good!

And I don't see why so many are down on the area in the first place. Yes, it is not an exlusive gated community in the boonies, but it is not that bad, imo. It could easily one day be a Melrose or Haight of Oklahoma City.

fife
03-10-2006, 04:38 PM
What is the route of the old Route 66 through the metro? I thought it came in on 2nd Street in Edmond, then made it's way down to 39th and straight west.


Route 66 originally went from Edmond, South on Kelly, to the state capitol. From there it went West on 23rd then North on N. Western or Classen (there is a little confusion to the exact route), to NW 39th to Yukon. There were other routes over the years as it bypassed parts of the city and came through the town of Britton, which is now Britton Road.

soonerguru
03-10-2006, 07:20 PM
The Dollar Store, Wig Shop, junky auto repair and convenience stores nearby will be replaced by others that more closely mirror the changes in the surrounding neighborhoods over time . . . lots of time.

Say what? I'm thrilled about the Tower renovation, but I disagree with you completely on this point, ODG. There's nothing wrong with the wig shop, or the Jamaican t-shirt shop, or the Asian grocery. That's called eclecticism, and it's what is sorely missing in this "city."

Go to a real city and delight in the diversity and funkiness real urban neighborhoods. Attitudes like this: "let's replace the 'junky' wig shop with an architect's office" are what make me skeptical that this city will ever actually accomplish meaningful urban renewal.

Our single biggest renovation project, Bricktown, has been scrubbed for suburbanites with Disneyland-like ambiance.

I like the wig shop (though I never shop for them and don't anticipate doing so in the future). I like that corner Asian convenience store. I like the body piercing place next to an upscale restaurant. To me, that's urban, and that's what we desperately want here.

Now, while we're on the subject, I would have no problem getting rid of that horrific Motel Liquidation shop or whatever the heck it is, or at least utilizing some code enforcement to get them to spruce it up a bit.

:)

The Old Downtown Guy
03-10-2006, 08:56 PM
Say what? I'm thrilled about the Tower renovation, but I disagree with you completely on this point, ODG. There's nothing wrong with the wig shop, or the Jamaican t-shirt shop, or the Asian grocery. That's called eclecticism, and it's what is sorely missing in this "city."

Go to a real city and delight in the diversity and funkiness real urban neighborhoods. Attitudes like this: "let's replace the 'junky' wig shop with an architect's office" are what make me skeptical that this city will ever actually accomplish meaningful urban renewal.

Our single biggest renovation project, Bricktown, has been scrubbed for suburbanites with Disneyland-like ambiance.

I like the wig shop (though I never shop for them and don't anticipate doing so in the future). I like that corner Asian convenience store. I like the body piercing place next to an upscale restaurant. To me, that's urban, and that's what we desperately want here.

Now, while we're on the subject, I would have no problem getting rid of that horrific Motel Liquidation shop or whatever the heck it is, or at least utilizing some code enforcement to get them to spruce it up a bit.

:)

I didn't mention the piercing shop, Jamaican t-shirt shop, or the Asian grocery. The reflect a growing market in the area. Some of the other businesses serve a market that is leaving the area. Also, I didn't suggest that one particular business replace another.

BDP
03-11-2006, 09:43 AM
Good points, guru. I think as long as it stays local, it will be safe from the suburbanification (new word?). But I know what you're saying. In Oklahoma there is this fear of things that are different or things that are seem poorer. Our sprawling lifetsyle has created a lot of isolationism. They key is not to turn each neighborhood into something like every other neighborhood, but to renovate and develop it into it's own identity. Hopefully, 23rd can maintain and build on its ecclectic style.

windowphobe
03-11-2006, 10:25 AM
And the teensy Soul Boutique (Fashion First) deserves some sort of recognition as a 23rd Street icon; it's been there for more than thirty years. (If I remember correctly, it originally opened in the early 1970s in what used to be the Records, Inc. building on the northeast corner of 23rd and Classen.)

Jack
03-11-2006, 12:43 PM
We need some good tattoo shops in the area to go along with the nearby Paseo area.

BDP
03-12-2006, 09:41 AM
Good idea. You could finally get that tat you always wanted:

http://www.jebdesign.com/images/jack_box.gif

workman45
03-12-2006, 01:43 PM
A tour of the theatre would be great. Any chance of getting a group together? I know it hasn't worked out to well before but what do you say?

John
03-12-2006, 02:25 PM
I agree. I know there are quite a few who would like to get a 'before' look at the Tower. A group tour might be better as to not inconvenience Mr. Fife. Perhaps a weekday evening or weekend tour?

I'm in! :)

fife
03-13-2006, 10:54 AM
I would be happy to open up for a tour. Would Sunday at 1:00 be good? Scott Fife 606-8458

Doug Loudenback
03-13-2006, 12:25 PM
Thanks for the support of the Tower Theater (www.okctower.com)project! We, The Uptown Development Group, feel this area is poised for a come back. No other street in Oklahoma can boast a major university and the State Capitol, both within 1.5 miles of the Tower. It is true the project will require a lot of work, but to see this historically significant area, on the original Route 66, thrive again, will be worth it. Plesae note the Dollar General store is 1 block East. If any one is interested in touring the historic theater please let us know.

Thank you,

Scott Fife
The Uptown Development Group
info@okctower.com
Scott, I'm excited about your project! I recall enjoying the fine Tower Theater many times as a younger man ... The Sound of Music comes to mind, but there were others. AND, its in my neighborhood, as I live on NW 19th! So, this is good news for me, personally, as well as for Oklahoma City, generally.

BTW, in the images area of your website, the images wouldn't load on my computer, FWIW.

Doug Loudenback
03-13-2006, 12:30 PM
I agree. I know there are quite a few who would like to get a 'before' look at the Tower. A group tour might be better as to not inconvenience Mr. Fife. Perhaps a weekday evening or weekend tour?

I'm in! :)
Me, too!

Patrick
03-14-2006, 12:16 AM
I would be happy to open up for a tour. Would Sunday at 1:00 be good? Scott Fife 606-8458

I wouldn't be available Sunday, but maybe we can get a group together here some other time.

workman45
03-14-2006, 07:59 AM
Unfortunately I'm going to be out of town this weekend. Bummer.

Patrick
03-14-2006, 10:19 AM
It's Spring Break. We might have a better chance arranging a tour another week.

HenryRubin
10-10-2006, 11:54 PM
First off there is no "Ghetto" in OKC. We don't have daily drive-bys or gang fights on the 400 block of NW 23rd Street. How do I know this? because I have been working 10 hour days, 5-6 days a week, at once of the most respected professional piercing studios in the nation, for over 7 years now, which has been open since May 1995. Before anyone pre-judges us as "Ghetto" or "Hoodish", they should come by for a tour of our amazing studio. They will walk out with only one expression... which is always "WOW"... Take a virtual tour of our studio at 23rd Street Body Piercing (http://www.23rdStreetBodyPiercing.com)

Spartan
10-10-2006, 11:57 PM
On the first page, was that the Jack fellow who I was supposed to be???

ChristianConservative
10-11-2006, 09:50 AM
First off there is no "Ghetto" in OKC. We don't have daily drive-bys or gang fights on the 400 block of NW 23rd Street. How do I know this? because I have been working 10 hour days, 5-6 days a week, at once of the most respected professional piercing studios in the nation, for over 7 years now, which has been open since May 1995. Before anyone pre-judges us as "Ghetto" or "Hoodish", they should come by for a tour of our amazing studio. They will walk out with only one expression... which is always "WOW"... Take a virtual tour of our studio at 23rd Street Body Piercing (http://www.23rdStreetBodyPiercing.com)

Are you actually making a post here, or trying to find free advertising?

BDP
10-11-2006, 03:35 PM
I think he made a very knowledgeable testimony regarding the area. It is amazing the perception many have of their own city, especially considering how little of this city most residents actually experience. I'd certainly take the word of someone who has worked there for 7 years over that of some people who have maybe driven past it 7 times in as many years. When discussing the state of the neighborhood, I’d say the view point of a resident is very informative and the condition of a local business very relavent.

ChristianConservative
10-11-2006, 05:01 PM
I don't consider the 23rd and Broadway area the best part of town, but okay.

BDP
10-12-2006, 10:24 AM
Of course you don't. Just like I'm sure no one thought Bricktown was a great part of town. That strip is one of the last high traffic places in Oklahoma City to have the potential to have great street front commerce and night life. It hasn't yet been absorbed by parking lots and tick tacky development. It has a great mix of local businesses and services not found elsewhere in the city and the Tower theater has the potential to take it to the next level.

Right now it may not have commerece targeted to your demographic, but that doesn't make it a bad part of town. It may not be the best part of town for your prefernces, but that doesn't mean it's the hell hole you may think it is.

ChristianConservative
10-12-2006, 10:26 AM
Of course you don't. Just like I'm sure no one thought Bricktown was a great part of town. That strip is one of the last high traffic places in Oklahoma City to have the potential to have great street front commerce and night life. It hasn't yet been absorbed by parking lots and tick tacky development. It has a great mix of local businesses and services not found elsewhere in the city and the Tower theater has the potential to take it to the next level.

Right now it may not have commerece targeted to your demographic, but that doesn't make it a bad part of town. It may not be the best part of town for your demographic, but that doesn't mean it's the hell hole you may think it is.

I never said it didn't have potential to be one heck of an entertainment strip. Currently though, the clientale in that area leaves much to be desired.

BDP
10-12-2006, 10:27 AM
What do you desire it to be? What businesses don't you like and why?

Patrick
10-12-2006, 10:29 AM
What do you desire it to be? What businesses don't you like and why?

I'll chime in here.

I wouldn't say it's the businesses as much as it is the community around it that I think Conservative is referring to. The neighborhoods around that area are pretty run down.

It could be a pretty nice bustling strip of upscale night clubs, quality dance clubs, one state of the art drama playhouse, etc. Much like Brookside in Tulsa.

But, that's probably not what Conservative would want.

ChristianConservative
10-12-2006, 10:33 AM
I'll chime in here.

I wouldn't say it's the businesses as much as it is the community around it that I think Conservative is referring to. The neighborhoods around that area are pretty run down.

It could be a pretty nice bustling strip of upscale night clubs, quality dance clubs, one state of the art drama playhouse, etc. Much like Brookside in Tulsa.

But, that's probably not what Conservative would want.

Yes Patrick, the first comment is exactly what I'm referring to.

I wouldn't have a problem with the strip becoming an upscale collection of night life, it would just need to be upscale to turn away the low life.
I have no problem with night life, I'm just not into it myself.

BDP
10-12-2006, 11:15 AM
removed

BDP
10-12-2006, 11:24 AM
Well, it is also between some of the best neighborhoods in Oklahoma City. Personally, I'd like to see Automobile Alley resemble the vision you guys are talking about with upscale services. And I think it is headed that way. But, I also think that we need an area that appeals to younger people with more of an edge and more of a forward thinking mentality. Usually these places are in lower income areas (at least they start out that way).

That area of 23rd is kind of teetering on that, with some vintage stores, galleries, tattooing and piercing and the Blue Note. I think the Tower could possible tip it over the edge. For that area I am thinking more Deep Ellum, Melrose, Wicker Park, East village, etc. Obviously these areas have been gentrified and upscaled in the recent decade or so, but their roots are more of being exciting alternatives for young creatives and progressive residents. Yes, it will never appeal to the gated community types, but should everything in the city be that way or, an even better question, can the city support endless developments targeted to that lifestyle? And, subsequently, is every neighborhood that isn't pristine and upscale a bad neighborhood?

There are some great apartment and office buildings along that strip that could be fixed up just a bit and make great affordable housing for younger residents new to the city and looking for something a little more exciting and original than currently available in OKC. In my mind, the number one thing that characterizes a successful and vibrant city is one with a variety of vibrant neighborhoods, each with their own unique characteristics and choices. 23rd helps us in that regard. But I think its successful future lies in expanding upon its current unique characteristics as opposed to reinventing it as an upscale enclave.

The Old Downtown Guy
10-12-2006, 11:45 AM
I don't consider the 23rd and Broadway area the best part of town, but okay.

23rd and Broadway is about three blocks west of the Oklahoma State Capitol and about three blocks east of the Tower Theater. Whether that is the best part of town, worst part of town or just part of town is certainly a matter of personal opinion; mine has less to do with extremes and is that the area is still going through a period of transition from neglect to revitalization. My observation is that the causes of the decline are numerous, the period of decline measured in decades, the challenges of revitalization are multi-facetted and the period of redevelopment is protracted.

I am aquainted with the business refered to above, 23rd Street Body Piercing, located in the same block as the Tower Theater. It appears to be a well conceived, professionally operated business that will continue to attract new customers to 23rd Street as the revitalization process continues and IMO it fits in well with the wide variety of retail and consumer service businesses that I expect to repopulate the area over the next few years. The future 23rd Street comsumer mixture of a variety of age and economic groups will provide the energetic and dynamic street life necessary to sustain the area's present and future businesses.

I also own and operate a business within a stones throw of the Tower Theater and for several years have been deeply involved with the Uptown 23 Development Association, a 501-C3 business and property owner’s group working toward returning the Uptown Commercial district to a vibrant neighborhood shopping district; a function it fulfilled for about thirty years. The area was once home to numerous fine restaurants, cafes, upscale retail stores and other businesses serving the surrounding neighborhoods.

The decline in downtown was coincidental with the decline in the residential neighborhoods surrounding downtown and the associated neighborhood commercial centers of which Uptown was one of the most important. Shepherd Mall replaced Uptown as the primary shopping center for the immediate area and has since gone through its own decline and revitalization.

All that being said, it is exciting to prepare for the long anticipated rehabilitation of the landmark Tower Theater and the positive impact that its reopening will contribute to the area's redevelopment.

Like most people, ChristianConservative apparently has had little direct contact and has only limited first-hand knowledge of our downtown and other inner-city areas that are in the midst of the long process of revitalization, and many people are put-off by some of the still dilapidated structures, surface appearance and presence of the areas diverse population; a natural reaction I guess. Fortunately, there are other people who see beyond the surface and the present, into the potential of a new and different future. The decline and rebuilding process is part of the life cycle of all cities everywhere. The decline is a sad sight indeed, but the upside part is a joy to watch and contribute to.

BTW, the Heritage Hills Homes Tour is coming up this weekend. It should be a great event and a chance to check out some of the incredible homes in this wonderful neighborhood.

The Old Downtown Guy
10-12-2006, 11:54 AM
. . . I also think that we need an area that appeals to younger people with more of an edge and more of a forward thinking mentality.. . . For that area I am thinking more Deep Ellum, Melrose, Wicker Park, East village, etc. . . . .Obviously these areas have been gentrified and upscaled in the recent decade or so, but their roots are more of being exciting alternatives for young creatives and progressive residents. [/QOUTE]

You make some great points BDP and I agree completely with you.

[QUOTE=BDP;70030] Yes, it will never appeal to the gated community types, but should everything in the city be that way . . .

Thank goodness. . . . What are all those gates good for anyhow?


There are some great apartment and office buildings along that strip that could be fixed up just a bit and make great affordable housing for younger residents new to the city and looking for something a little more exciting and original than currently available in OKC.

Opportunity abounds . . .


In my mind, the number one thing that characterizes a successful and vibrant city is one with a variety of vibrant neighborhoods, each with their own unique characteristics and choices. 23rd helps us in that regard. But I think its successful future lies in expanding upon its current unique characteristics as opposed to reinventing it as an upscale enclave.

Perfectly said . .

ChristianConservative
10-12-2006, 12:34 PM
There are some great apartment and office buildings along that strip that could be fixed up just a bit and make great affordable housing for younger residents new to the city and looking for something a little more exciting and original than currently available in OKC. In my mind, the number one thing that characterizes a successful and vibrant city is one with a variety of vibrant neighborhoods, each with their own unique characteristics and choices. 23rd helps us in that regard. But I think its successful future lies in expanding upon its current unique characteristics as opposed to reinventing it as an upscale enclave.

It's tough getting young professionals to move into an area when there are mounting drug problems and shootings. The 23rd St. area is improving but we need to work on reducing the gang population and other crime in the area.

I don't disagree that this is a unique neighborhood. I'm just trying to explain why many people don't want to live in this area.

ChristianConservative
10-12-2006, 12:40 PM
23rd and Broadway is about three blocks west of the Oklahoma State Capitol and about three blocks east of the Tower Theater. Whether that is the best part of town, worst part of town or just part of town is certainly a matter of personal opinion;

Oh, it's not about opinions, it about crime statistics. Gangs run rampant in that part of town and that activity needs to be cleaned up and seriously looked at before serious strides can be made in the area.

But, as you mention, the area is on an upswing after years of deterioration, and hopefully this district will continue its progress.

The Old Downtown Guy
10-12-2006, 05:02 PM
. . . Gangs run rampant in that part of town . . .

Are you sure you want to stick with that outrageous remark?

HFK
10-12-2006, 08:19 PM
Glad to hear that the Theater is being renovated. Keeping the old movie houses going is certainly worthwhile: Oakland's Paramount, a true movie palace, suffered from neglect for many years before the city saved it from the wrecking ball by restoring it to it's old glory (and it IS glorious) and using it a venue for a variety of events, including screening classic movies. If you're ever in the vicinity it's worth a visit, especially if they're screening a classic. I saw "Notorious" there a few years ago, along with a packed house, and it's a BIG theater, seating several hundred at least: it was a great experience: people clapped and cheered just like in the old days, there was a genuine atmosphere of community in the theater which seems to be missing at modern cinemas. Across the bay, Stanford has a smaller old theater in a bustling, lively downtown district. They screened "North By Northwest" on the night I attended and, just like the Paramount, it was a packed house. Perhaps the Tower can duplicate some of that success: there's definitely a market for screenings of old classics.

The Old Downtown Guy
10-13-2006, 07:09 AM
. . . Perhaps the Tower can duplicate some of that success: there's definitely a market for screenings of old classics.

Thanks for the success story. The Tower is also a "neighborhood" theater and the new owners hope to make it a gathering place as well as a venue for a variety of entertainment productions including live music, stage productions, classic and independent film. I'm sure that numerous opportunities and new uses will emerge once the theater is back in use.

Pete
02-03-2007, 08:18 AM
Towering enterprise
Renovations to light up NW 23 Uptown area

By Steve Lackmeyer
Business Writer

As far as Scott Fife is concerned, as long as the neon sign at the Tower Theater is dark and dinged up, the once vibrant stretch of NW 23 can't reach its full potential.



The longtime event promoter and his partners say they are ready to proceed this month on bringing that sign back to life and starting work on a $2 million renovation of the theater and adjoining storefronts.

"It seems we're not the only group eager to get the marquee lit and construction going,” said Fife, who has visited with the area's surrounding neighborhood associations. "Much of the renaissance of the 23rd Street corridor is focused on this central block in Uptown.”

When Fife and partners Marty Dillon, Matt Goad and Terri Sadler-Goad bought the theater at 425 NW 23 in November 2005, they anticipated starting work within a few months. Their plans were delayed as they worked with city and state officials to obtain historic tax credits, federal empowerment zone and Route 66 enhancement grants.

The Art Deco-style property was built in two phases. The storefronts, which include a second floor of office space, were built in 1926. Fife said the strip included a TG&Y and C.R. Anthony's in its heyday and was the city's premier suburban shopping corridor until Shepherd Mall opened in the early 1960s.

The theater was added in 1937, and its neon sign was even featured in the opening backdrop to early episodes of "The Tonight Show” when it first was hosted by Jay Leno.

Fife said Michael Smith, who helped lead efforts to save another NW 23 landmark, the Gold Dome, was key to discovering funding sources that will make possible a true restoration of the buildings.

"His connections and advice throughout this project has been an immense asset,” Fife said.

Smith, who owns Design Resources at 315 NW 23, said neighbors are excited about the redevelopment.

"I'm really excited about these young folks who have bought this,” Smith said. "They've got a great concept to use the building. They've got so much energy, and they're not entering this without giving it a lot of thought.”

Plans call for a first phase that will create a 1,200-seat event center in the main auditorium and a 270-seat independent theater in the theater's large balcony level. Fife said negotiations are underway with prospective office and restaurant tenants for the attached storefronts. Work will include addition of an elevator, removal of spaces near the sign to prevent further damage by passing trucks, and a new second-floor corridor to replace an open alleyway that runs between the auditorium and office space.

A parking lot will replace a dirt lot across the street to accommodate crowds expected to lease the auditorium for banquets, concerts and special events. Construction is expected to last one year.

Marty Jacobs Construction was hired for the renovation, and plans were developed by architects Brian and Ken Fitzsimmons. Construction permit applications are under city review. Beyond repairs and additions, the Fitzsimmons' designs call for restoration of storefronts covered up for years behind fake facades, the theater's original entryway plaza and its lobby.

The Fitzsimmons brothers both once sought careers in other states. Brian Fitzsimmons worked in Dallas before returning eight years ago to assist on prominent redevelopments in Bricktown and Automobile Alley (the Kingman and Buick buildings) while at Elliott and Associates. Ken Fitzsimmons returned last year after working in Austin, Texas. They believe now is an exciting time for redevelopment of the urban core.

"We're working with a great group of developers,” Brian Fitzsimmons said. "It's so visible, and will be a great contribution to the development of the city.”

• For more on changes along NW 23 and how Oklahoma City is supporting the effort, see Sunday's Local & State section.

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Doug Loudenback
02-03-2007, 08:55 AM
Thanks, Malibu! Great news & post!

ETL
02-03-2007, 09:29 PM
Cool! I hope they add a plaque to an entrance wall that tells of the building's history.

Pete
02-05-2007, 08:14 AM
Urban vision
City government: Residents support changes
Business owners, city officials are awaiting the revitalization of NW 23 Street corridor.



By John Estus
Staff Writer

Will Habekott talks about his little neighborhood bar as a symbol of bigger things to come along NW 23 Street.

He said the bar and music venue smelled bad and was falling apart before he bought it in October, but The Blue Note, 2408 N Robinson Ave., since has been spruced up.

"I don't want it to be a dive,” Habekott said.

He ripped out the smelly carpet, painted the walls and made improvements to the stage while trying to keep the personality and history of the 45-year-old bar intact.

Other business owners and residents along NW 23 share Habekott's vision for revitalizing the area, and Oklahoma City officials are beginning to support them.

City council members took action this month to restrict large billboards and dirty auto repair shops from opening along the street.

They also approved adding $2 million of street improvements, sidewalks, lighting and signage in the Asian District, which runs along Classen Boulevard for about a mile north of its intersection with NW 23.

Locals see new direction

People with a stake in the culturally and economically diverse area say the council action is an early step toward a long-awaited revitalization of the old Route 66.

"These aren't Edmond people. These aren't Norman people. These aren't Yukon people. These are people that live here, work here and spend their money here,” Habekott said.

People like Cheever's Cafe owners Keith and Heather Paul, whose Heritage Hills home is just down the road from the popular NW 23 restaurant they own.

The Pauls have owned Cheever's at 2409 N Hudson Ave. for seven years, and Keith Paul said he hopes NW 23 someday becomes similar to Greenville Avenue in Dallas.

That area has grown by attracting more locally owned restaurants and refurbished historical buildings such as the Tower Theater, which is set to be renovated into a live entertainment venue.

Greenville is a popular dining, entertainment and arts district a few miles north of downtown Dallas that includes the Granada Theater, a 1,200 capacity music and entertainment venue that is an old movie theater.

Historical neighborhoods surround Greenville, much like the NW 23 corridor.

Keith Paul also likened improving NW 23 to projects a few miles north on Western Avenue, which has grown into a busy restaurant district and features locally owned specialty retail shops.

"We hope to see the same thing on 23rd Street in time, but it's not going to happen overnight,” Keith Paul said.

Still, he has seen significant progress in the area, mostly with streetscape improvements and the decline of panhandlers during the past five years.

New look is sought

Rob Elliott also enjoys the streetscape improvements on Classen Boulevard and NW 23.

He sees them every day on his way to work at Elliott Architects, 1141 N Robinson Ave., where he has designed development projects in the Asian District and on NW 23.

Elliott suggested placing the corridor under urban design regulations so it can develop an identity, but he also wants developers to find ways to preserve historical buildings along the road.

Ward 2 Councilman Sam Bowman said he is encouraged by projects such as the Tower Theater and other ambitious developments along the road.

Bowman would like to see pedestrian traffic increase once new businesses open.

"We've got some real opportunities to do some pedestrian-friendly storefront retail,” he said.

"Mixed in with housing, second-story loft housing, that sort of thing.”

Extending downtown trolley service to MidTown and NW 23 is one option to encourage pedestrians to visit the area, Bowman said.

Past, present and future

As a youngster living off NW 23 in the late 1940s, Michael Smith spent his afternoons "prowling up and down the street” after watching Saturday morning movies at the Tower Theater.

Now, Smith runs an interior design shop on NW 23. He set up a nonprofit group, Uptown 23 Development Corp., in 1993 to push for revitalizing the area.

The group succeeded in lobbying for the major streetscape project that added a median and signage to NW 23 west of Interstate 235 about five years ago.

Slow but steady improvements to some once-troubled nearby neighborhoods have Smith thinking NW 23 has a better opportunity to serve those neighborhoods than in the past.

But not until the Tower Theater reopens will the area attract the type of new developments it needs, Smith said.

"When they get that sign lit up, that baby is going to be a beacon to entrepreneurs and real estate investors to come down here and help us finish this thing,” Smith said.

Smith hopes more restaurants, specialty retail and housing will follow once the Tower is open again.

"Many of these properties are way underutilized as far as the quality and type of businesses that will operate there in the future,” Smith said.

For lifelong area stakeholders like Smith and newcomers such as Habekott, the future can't come soon enough.

"We want nothing but to see this area just explode,” Habekott said.

"Everybody here can see it and feel the energy of what it's going to be like five years from now.”

okclee
04-06-2007, 06:21 PM
What is the latest with the Tower Theater? I have driven by a few times lately and haven't seen any action.