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OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — The owners of the Century Center at Sheridan and Robinson downtown have agreed to sell to locally-owned Griffin Communications.

Griffin is the parent company of Oklahoma City’s TV broadcast News 9, Tulsa’s News on 6, The Tulsa CW, an outdoor advertising company, and several radio stations.

Plans are to relocate all of their company headquarters and all of News 9 operations to the building. Exceptions are their weather radar and helicopter operations which will stay at their original site at 7401 N. Kelley. The Tulsa stations will stay in their current locations.

The Oklahoman newspaper, currently holding the dominant square feet in the building, will become a tenant of Griffin Communications.

Other tenants of the building are also expected to stay in place and operational during the renovation. They are Mahogany Prime Steakhouse, the Main Street YMCA, SSM (St. Anthony) Health, Café De L’asie.

Major move

Griffin announced that the entire project will have a $26 million price tag with $10 million of that going to renovating the building to accommodate Griffin’s needs.

The company says they will move about 200 employees downtown once the renovation is complete.

“For more than 100 years, Griffin Communications has been committed to keeping Oklahomans safe, informed and entertained, and we believe that our headquarters should be in the heart of the city we serve,” said David Griffin, President, and CEO of Griffin Communications.

“The new location will give our team even more opportunities to connect with the public on stories affecting our communities and to bring the excitement and energy of downtown Oklahoma City into our viewers’ homes across western Oklahoma. We put our community and people first, and we are excited to be a part of the downtown community.”

According to Houston Hunt, Vice President of Marketing for Griffin, the renovation will involve a large reconfiguration of space in the two-story building to accommodate the company headquarters and TV broadcast production facilities.

“Being able to move our operations to the century center is just incredibly exciting for us,” Hunt told Free Press. “We feel like being able to be in the heart of the city is the best thing for the local TV station and for the viewers.”

“I am thrilled at the relocation of Griffin Communications downtown, which brings a new kind of energy to our city’s central business district,” said Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt.

“It also ensures that the key property they are moving into retains its status as a downtown anchor. This is really good for downtown, which is really good for OKC. I commend everyone involved in this project for making it happen, especially David Griffin, Mark Moore, Andy Burnett and Cathy O’Connor.”

Smaller Oklahoman

The Oklahoman newspaper will become a tenant of Griffin in the reconfigured space necessarily taking up far fewer square feet in the building originally renovated primarily for 350 employees of The Oklahoman and its parent company OPUBCO in 2014.

The Oklahoman reported at the time that 350 people would occupy two floors of the space shared with restaurants and other businesses being opened.

At that point, the paper was still locally owned.

But, since then, the paper sold to a Colorado oilman, then sold to the Gatehouse corporation that then merged with the even larger Gannett corporation.

Gannett is now the largest newspaper company and fourth-largest TV broadcast company in the U.S.

Each sale, especially to the national corporations, resulted in more Oklahoman reporters, staff, and leadership being peeled out of the operation starting just about a year after the move.

Gatehouse, and then Gannett, have continued to consolidate different parts of The Oklahoman’s production into regional operations outside of Oklahoma City resulting in a much smaller local staff. And the executives of the newspaper company were not needed locally for the larger, national corporations.

The original building for the paper and parent company developed by E.K. Gaylord was in lower Automobile Alley at N. Broadway and 4th.

After building an office tower and printing plant between OKC and Edmond, the company moved to a new campus, then, moved back downtown to the Century Center in 2014.

Financing

The parties to the agreement are in negotiations for public incentive money with the City of Oklahoma City Tax Increment Financing Board for TIF funds set aside for development.

Cathy O’Connor, president, and CEO of The Alliance for Economic Development has been involved in promoting the deal as she has on most major real estate deals downtown over the last several decades. The private company provides staff support for the Economic Development Trust and several other City entities that involve redevelopment.

“The chance to move a major employer to downtown is a really important step for downtown Oklahoma City,” O’Connor said in a News 9 interview about the move.

All requests for incentive monies provided by the various City entities will eventually come before the City Council.

Last Updated August 2, 2021, 9:54 AM by Brett Dickerson – Editor