Downtown development continues to gather momentum. Wednesday, an official groundbreaking was held for the 1st Street Lofts, a project that will renovate the historic Jacobs Hotel into a 19-unit apartment building. It's true that downtown development is just now gathering steam, but the News On 6â€™s Steve Berg reports it's been the dream of the building's owner for 30 years.
It's not your usual groundbreaking, but then Michael Sager has always had an appreciation for things out of the ordinary.
"I've lived in London and other places around the country and the world, and I've always enjoyed the big, raw spaces," said Sager.
The upper floors of the Jacobs Hotel have long been vacant, even before Sager bought it in the late 70â€™s, and there aren't many people that would have held onto it for this long. One of the best examples of his devotion to the place was a few years ago when several bricks fell off the facade and his consultants told him to tear it down.
"We spent several hundred thousand dollars,â€ said Sager. â€œWe took every brick off the face, brick-by-brick, and put the original bricks back on. That's our commitment."
Now the entire building will be renovated, starting with a glass-enclosed stairwell and elevator and 19 apartment units ranging from around 700 to 2,000 square feet. The third and fourth floors will have two-story apartments with lofts overlooking the lower levels. For the ground-floor tenant, they will look specifically for a grocery store, which they say is vital to make downtown living feasible.
"We're not talking about an Albertson's here,â€ Sager said. â€œWe're really talking a Chicago corner store, a New Orleans corner store, a Dallas neighborhood corner store. That's what we're after."
Built in 1916, the hotel was right across the street from the Union Train Depot and has a lot of history behind it. Sager feels its best days are ahead of it.
"This was the hub of everything, of the new people coming to Tulsa, and we're going to make that happen again,â€ he said.