Consolidation Possible With Move

Mayor Kathy Taylor not only wants to move the way city hall works and does business she also wants to move City Hall.
With less than a month before completing her first year in office, Taylor has proposed moving from the present City Hall and as many as 11 other downtown buildings filled with city employees to one location.
While the operating costs for all those structures is to be determined, but Taylor indicated that there will be financial savings by consolidation as well as improved efficiency in city government.
An agreement has already been reached on buying the glass-clad One Technology Center Building at East Second Street and South Cincinnati Avenue along with interim financing, but the city can reject the plan at no cost.
While permanent financing has not been decided, the building could be acquired by an authority using proceeds from revenue bonds repaid as rent from the city.
At a news conference Taylor indicated that the best use for the present City Hall would be to raze the structure and sell it to a hotel developer.
Other downtown hoteliers have indicated they would like another convention hotel downtown because it would generate business by inducing more groups to come to Tulsa especially with the availability of the future BOK Center and refurbished and larger Tulsa Convention Center
The city is making a 90-day cost and feasibility study, which was outlined, to city councilors one day and the public on the following day by Don Himelfarb, the city’s director of economic development.
One Technology Center could be acquired by mid July with city departments moving in shortly thereafter.
Himelfarb declined to be specific, but said that structure completed in 2001 at an estimated cost exceeding $200 million, would be acquired along with 1,007 parking spaces for less than the listed asking price of $80 million. A new building would cost an estimated $82.5 million or more.
Leucadia National Corp. of New York owns the building and would provide interim financing, Himelfarb said. It was originally built by the Williams Cos., but became the headquarters for Williams Communications, Inc. when it opened.
Himelfarb said a new building may reduce the amount of space the city needs by some 30 percent and improve its technological capabilities.
“The city is pretty much in the dark ages” in technology, he said.
While termed a 15-story building, it is as high as most 23-story buildings, but each of the floors in the structure are 16 feet high to accommodate the technology at the time and to handle future developments.
It will cost at least $12 million to update the present city hall, including what Himelfarb described as its “third world” heating and ventilating system and other maintenance projects that have been deferred.
No one can tell what the real estate and occupancy costs are to the city. “No one knows,” Himelfarb said. Part of the study will determine those costs.
The 12 city buildings occupied by 1,290 employees from 21 departments have 496,241 square feet of space and are, for the most part, in or near downtown Tulsa. There is 741,737 square feet of space in One Technology Center, with some of it leased to commercial clients.
Those leases would continue providing revenue to the city and Himelfarb said the city would look to other government entities to co-locate with the new city hall.
Some concerns with the new building are a leaking roof and the glass curtain wall, which was damaged when wind shear pulled portions of the wall out to the street. Also among those concerns are the costs of moving and work disruption, the costs of duplicate occupancy for a period of time, parking needs and the high cost of seller financing until bonds can be sold.
By moving city hall, Taylor said the city’s office occupancy rate would be cut down which will help the economy and a new hotel will increase the tax base as well as support efforts to increase conventions to Tulsa.
Himelfarb said the city has been discussing the possibility of relocating city hall with other downtown property owners.
When the construction was first announced, then Gov. Frank Keating said the adjacent parking structure would be built in part with $4 million from the state transportation department and Tulsa Mayor Susan Savage said city would add another $2.5 million from federal transportation grants and the balance for the $10 million to $13 million structure would come from revenue bonds.

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