A former Tulsa transportation hub that dates back roughly 100 years has been transformed into one of downtown’s spiffiest office spaces.
Glass walls, exposed brick, mosaics and skylights bring a contemporary look to the interior design of the refurbished Santa Fe rail depot, 111 S. Elgin Ave.
Sitting at a stained concrete conference table on the ground floor, developer Matt Klimisch reflected on the history of the building, which was built in the early 20th century, according to newspaper archives.
“This portion was more ticketing and passenger,” he said. “The other side where it drops to the single level was more freight transfer. Trucks pulled up to that side … loaded product and went out the back to the trains.”
A Tulsa World story about the construction of the depot in April 1918 said, “It will be by far the handsomest station in the state of Oklahoma.” Among the structures razed to make room for the facility were seven residences, two garages, two tin shops and the lumber barns of the Minnetonka Lumber Co., the story said.
About 50 years ago, Santa Fe had twice-daily passenger trains from Tulsa to Kansas City, Missouri, one a morning departure and the other afternoon.
Last occupied by a civil engineering firm about a decade ago, the former depot was part of block purchase spearheaded by local restaurateur Elliot Nelson, Klimisch said.
Industrial Developers of Oklahoma and Optima Commercial Real Estate Services later purchased and invested between $2.5 million and $3 million into the redevelopment of the roughly 11,500-square-foot structure, 8,800 square feet of which they occupy, he said. The remainder of the space is available for a new tenant.
“We had to pecan-shell blast these bricks — because they had plaster on them for 100 years — just to get that aesthetic that we were looking for,” Klimisch said.
Of the entire project, whose architect was KSQ Design, he said: “I think everybody is pleased with everything but the cost. Everything cost more than it’s supposed to. But we’re happy at the end of the day.”
Skylights illuminate the structure’s atrium and stairwell, and mosaics pay homage to the building’s past. A ground-floor patio fronts First Street, and a covered patio is on the second floor, which also features a wine bar.
Klimisch said the downtown location plus the “size and scale of the whole Santa Fe development” were factors in the former depot’s redevelopment.
“That intrigued us, maybe being one of the first in,” he said of Santa Fe Square, a mixed-used development by Nelson-Stowe proposed for two full city blocks bordered by First and Second streets from Elgin to Greenwood avenues.
“We saw value there. You have the restaurants and the walkability and the ballpark. There were a lot of things that brought us to the building.”
Hotel Indigo, which is under construction just south of the rejuvenated former depot, is expected to open later this year. Further details on Santa Fe Square, which will include office and retail space, a parking garage and nearly 300 apartments, could be announced within 60 days, Klimisch said.
“Everyone on the overall development would like an anchor tenant, and an anchor office tenant would be ideal,” he said. “At some point, they can’t wait any longer and they will have to go ahead and pull the trigger. But they are trying to, rightfully so, stay as flexible as they can until they have to.”