Developer to convert two Broadway buildings in downtown OKC into apartments, retail

Developer to convert two Broadway buildings in downtown OKC into apartments, retail

Two century-old office buildings are set to be converted into a mix of 265 apartments and retail by the same developer who renovated the former Lincoln Plaza into the mid-century Presley residences.

Richard Tanenbaum, who also previously converted The Montgomery and Park Harvey Building into apartments, bought the former BancFirst Building at 101 N Broadway in June. He paid $6 million for the 1921 building, originally home to Tradesman’s Bank, and then purchased the 1924 Medical Arts Building at 100 Park Ave. for $6.5 million on Monday.

The buildings will be tied together through The Underground pedestrian tunnels, which also connects to the Main Street Garage, which will set aside 400 spaces for the new apartment residents. Tanenbaum will rename the two buildings “The Harlow.”

“In the 1920s, Jean Harlow was the actress who lit up the screen,” Tanenbaum said. “It’s bringing back the ‘20s. It won’t be Art Deco — it will be classic (design). When you look back, these were the buildings that stood out. They were both at about 100,000 square feet, built out of concrete, and they were quite an accomplishment.”

The Medical Arts building, 100 Park Ave., shown to the right, and the former BancFirst headquarters, shown to the left, will be tied together and converted into a mix of apartments and retail. CHRIS LANDSBERGER/THE OKLAHOMAN

Tanenbaum estimates the development will cost $60 million with construction starting in March and opening a year later.

“We’re going to clean it up, brush paint here and there,” Tanenbaum said. “But what attracted me was that I could do something with this. The lobby is spectacular, and the buildings were well built.”

The conversion of the buildings will remove 203,000 square feet from a downtown office market that was hit hard by the pandemic. The former BancFirst building was empty when it was purchased by Tanenbaum. The Medical Arts building, meanwhile, has four tenants set to move out, including the anchor tenant and former owner, Duncan Oil, which Tanenbaum said is looking at staying downtown.

Map showing the future site of The Harlow

Tanenbaum said his current apartment properties, including The Presley, have waiting lists, and he anticipates the same mix of amenities will quickly attract tenants to the Harlow. The Underground level will include pickleball and racquetball courts. Other amenities will include shared office spaces for residents, a dog grooming salon, conference rooms and a movie room. Map showing the future site of The Harlow.

Tanenbaum is in talks with two restaurant groups for the corner space at Park and Broadway, where he is seeking “something new, different, unusual … and not a steakhouse.”

The Harlow also will reopen the connection space between the Medical Arts building and the First National Center, providing Harlow residents a connection to restaurants and shops in the First National retail gallery.

“Activating that corridor will bring new business flooding into the OKC Underground,” Tanenbaum said. “It will offer unfettered access for retailers to reach the influx of new business and residential customers in both buildings.”

The former BancFirst lobby will be converted into a residents’ amenities center that will include shared work spaces and a free coffee bar. The leasing office counter will be built with safety deposit boxes left behind when BancFirst moved across the street.

Rents at the Harlow will start at $860 a month and are expected to average at $1,045 a month.

“This type of development is precisely what downtown Oklahoma City needs right now,” Tanenbaum said. “Demand for residential rental property is at an all-time high, and Oklahomans deserve luxury living at a competitive price.”