Tulsans Want Historic Buildings Protected In Zoning Code

Monday, September 28th 2015, 11:14 pm
By: News On 6

Zoning ordinances have been a hot topic for months in Tulsa, as the city is working to update its zoning code.

Monday, the public got a chance to give feedback on some of the proposed changes.

Some neighbors said the current codes have failed in protecting historic buildings, and they’re hoping more can be done to protect some of our city’s oldest structures.

Until a few days ago a building from the 1920s stood near 15th and Delaware - now it’s being cleared for new development.

Neighbor Carla Robinson said, "That's what makes me sad. We lost one of the oldest buildings in our neighborhood, and now we will never get it back."

The building was most recently home to The Bead Merchant, and before that, many other businesses.

"As far back as the 50s there was a grocery store there. Kids used to stop by there on their way to Wilson when they went to school there,” said neighbor Mark Leavitt. “After that there was a leather shop there."

Neighbors said the developer plans to build office and retail spaces - the plans didn't include the, now, former structure.

Neighbor Tom Neal said, "Old buildings are a part of the fabric, they are the reason why a lot of us live in midtown."

"It was solid, sturdy and lasted for over 80 years, and structurally sound," said Robinson.

Neighbors attended the zoning meeting to stall demolition, but it didn't help because there was nothing in the zoning code to protect it.

Neal said, "I would love for the city to have some serious teeth to at least delay demolitions so people could find better uses.”

The Tulsa Preservation Commission has suggested zoning commissioners include that in the updated zoning code.

You Can Read The Proposed Zoning Changes Here

TPC wants demolition to be halted from 60 days to 180 - if a developer’s initial request is denied - so TPC can work with them to incorporate existing buildings into their plans as long as they are structurally sound.

Although it could help neighbors in the future, it's too late for the 15th and Delaware building.

"We lost our history, and you can't really replace that," Robinson said.

Neighbors fear one building coming down will lead to another, slowly chipping away from the neighborhoods they love so much.

The new zoning code is supposed to take away some of the red tape in all areas of zoning, but it will likely be months before it is finalized.