Protesting the demolition of a downtown Tulsa building

Wednesday, July 21st 2004, 10:24 am
By: News On 6

A group of protestors gathered outside a downtown Tulsa building that's been targeted for demolition by the Tulsa World.

The newspaper wants to replace the building with a parking lot. News on 6 reporter Steve Berg has more on the building concern.

Whether they meant it to be symbolic or not, the protestors found relief from the heat of the day in the shadow of the Skelly Building, which the Tulsa World intends to tear down. "Like so much of downtown has already been leveled and converted into something like a desert." Michael Bates believes that downtown is continuing on the wrong path, removing the tall buildings, especially the old buildings, which make it unique from other parts of the city.

"At the private level, the culture of demolition needs to be replaced with a culture of preservation." All around town though are signs of the World's argument that it's simply not feasible to add to the already rampant vacancies.

The Tulsa World also says it's expensive just to maintain a vacant building, let alone renovate it. But Bates calls the Tulsa World hypocritical to endorse the Vision 2025 plan and encourage Tulsans to invest their tax dollars in downtown, but not invest money itself. "Apparently their vision of 2025 in Tulsa is an asphalt parking lot. If they really believe downtown had a positive and bright future, they'd be looking for ways to reuse this building."

Bates points to the Mayo Hotel as an example. "The Mayo Hotel, I'll tell you what, if there's any building that's been put into a position where it would be hard to reuse, it's that one, and yet, somebody with some imagination and vision began that process from the ground up of rebuilding that hotel."

The News on 6 talked with the Tulsa World and they strongly disagree that they haven't invested in downtown. For example, they say when it came time to build a new $60-million printing press operation. They did it here, instead of moving to the suburbs.

And they say the Mayo is a much greater architectural treasure than the Skelly Building.