Whirled won't take its own advice


I guess I'm becoming immune to instances of laughable hypocrisy on the Tulsa Whirled's editorial page. At least my readers aren't, and one of them writes -- from across the pond! -- to call my attention to Monday's editorial about the plan to use $1 million in third-penny capital improvement sales tax dollars to subsidize the construction of 12 rental units in the Philtower Building.

One thing, however, is certain: Unless many of Tulsa's historic downtown buildings are not put to alternate use, such as for residential properties, they will eventually fall into disrepair and stand vacant, which does no one any good.

Tulsa's old oil-boom buildings are beautiful. Their architecture is part of Tulsa's rich heritage. But as breathtaking as they are on the outside, the insides of many do not fit today's market for businesses.

New offices are geared toward open floor plans with work spaces often separated by cubicles. The old buildings generally were built for individual offices. To renovate such space to accommodate the needs of today can be prohibitively expensive.

Turning floors 12 through 20 of the Philtower into lofts is a good idea. Tulsa needs such residential housing.

And because Tulsa needs such housing, and housing is the only practical way to save these downtown office towers, the Whirled's response is to tear down a nine-story building and turn it into a parking lot. The Whirled has the resources to convert the Skelly Building into residential space, or the Whirled could have sold the building. There was a group ready to buy the Skelly Building to do such a conversion, but the Whirled is determined to have its parking spaces.

If the Whirled really believed in downtown's future, the Skelly Building would be a part of that future.

The Philtower project, which went forward despite a divided Tulsa Development Authority, will increase downtown's population by a maximum of 18. The Philtower is in no danger of demolition and the owner has a revenue stream from his office and retail tenants that could have been used for the Philtower conversion. If the point of including that money in the third-penny was to spark residential development, Tulsans may wonder whether they are getting enough spark for the money. Tulsa Today had a story last month which provides details and raises questions about the selection of the Philtower and the elimination of other, larger projects from consideration.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on October 15, 2004 9:55 PM.

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