OPUBCO requests city incentives money to help with its planned relocation.
BY CLIFTON ADCOCK
A city oversight committee last week unanimously passed a measure to provide public incentives to OPUBCO, the parent company of The Oklahoman newspaper, for its planned move into downtown’s Century Center.
The Downtown Tax Increment Financing Review Committee approved OPUBCO’s request for $1.5 million in economic development funds from the TIF 8 — informally known as the Devon TIF — economic development fund.
The proposal will next go before the Oklahoma City Council for final approval. It would be the first project to be partially financed by the Devon TIF economic development fund, from which $24 million is set aside to lure corporate headquarters downtown.
OPUBCO announced plans earlier this month to move from its current location at 9000 N. Broadway into the Century Center building, a former shopping center that has been largely vacant for decades.
Christopher Reen, publisher of The Oklahoman, said the company had eyed several options of where to relocate, but ultimately decided to return downtown, which it had left 20 years ago.
He said the idea is to create the media environment of the future at Century Center. Glass walls would allow the public to see the first-floor newsroom at work, while a large digital display screen on the exterior would serve as a sort of modern-day “town crier.”
“It is really our desire to create a transparent environment, not only a transparent environment for people on the inside of the building but for pedestrians and traffic on the outside of the building,” Reen said.
At least 350 employees are expected to make the move.
OPUBCO estimates show that around $2.9 million in tenant improvements and around $4.1 million in other expenditures will be necessary to complete the move. The city economic development money will help offset the costs of furniture, fixtures and equipment, according to Cathy O’Connor, head of The Alliance for Economic Development.
It is really our desire to create a transparent environment.
“That building really hasn’t worked for 25 or 30 years now,” O’Connor said. “The opportunity to bring a major employer, a company headquarters, back to downtown Oklahoma City and to occupy a space that’s been very under-utilized and dead for a long time is, I think, a really exciting thing.”
In May of 2012, OPUBCO sold its current campus, including a 12-story tower, to American Fidelity Assurance Company. Since that sale, the publishing company has occupied about 95,000 square feet of the 250,00-square-foot space.
OPUBCO plans to use 67,000 square feet at the Century Center location.
100 Main LLC purchased the Century Center in May. In December, an expenditure of $2.9 million in downtown TIF funds was approved for renovating the building and adding two stories of parking that will be leased by OPUBCO.
Both measures are expected to go before city council for approval in February.