Price Family Properties is addressing the lack of affordable housing downtown with a new project.
PFP is planning to convert the long-vacant and roughly century-old Oil Capitol Building into 47 units ranging from about 550 to 600 square feet, company President Jackie Price Johannsen said. Monthly rents will equate to about $1.10 per square foot, or in the $605 to $660 vicinity, she said.
“At (the soon-to-be completed) 111 Lofts, we built the nine, three-bedroom, almost 2,800-square-foot apartments and are renting all nine of those,” Johannsen said. “That was $4,000 a month, no problem at all. We have a wait list.
“We’ve built for the more expensive demographic. Now, we’re trying to build and provide housing options for lower-income opportunities.”
The Oil Capitol redevelopment, 507 S. Main St., will feature apartments on floors two through seven. They are expected to be completed in eight months to a year, said Stuart Price, PFP chairman. A brewery, Eerie Abbey Ales, is moving into a 4,000-square-foot space on the first floor in a month or two, he said.
The Main Street redevelopment follows other downtown multifamily efforts linked to Price: the Transok Building, 111 Lofts (69 units) and the Adams Building, which PFP purchased and sold to it to Rose Rock Development Partners, which is converting it into apartments and a restaurant.
“The real heroes in the world are the ones who turn the lights on in the morning, get the bakery fired up, get the taxi cabs moving,” Price said. “We are excited to provide affordable housing to the people who are running our economy and allow them to have a safe and quality place to live.”
The building started as the Ketchum Hotel about 100 years ago — a Tulsa World ad said the hotel was “thrown open to the public” in 1916 — and it was later taken over by a life insurance company, which changed its name to the Bradford Hotel, according to newspaper archives.
American Airlines purchased it from the life insurance company in 1946 and converted it into a flight attendant training center, selling the building later to the Warren Employees Pension Trust. A renovation to the structure was completed in the mid-1970s.
Downtowners most likely remember the Oil Capitol Building as the former home of Impressions restaurant, which operated on the first floor from 2002-11.
“To have a successful downtown, you need all types of people living there, not just people who can afford $4,000-a-month apartments,” Johannsen said. “We need to have the people who are running our buildings, people who are working at the bar, people who are working at the energy companies. Everybody needs to have an opportunity to live downtown. In our portfolio, that’s the next step.”
Local developer Bob Jack told the Tulsa Development Authority several years ago that folks making $25,000-$40,000 annually can’t even afford a $1,000-per-month apartment, adding that affordability should be the motivation for multifamily projects downtown.
Johannsen led two members of the Tulsa World on a brief tour of the property Wednesday.
“The beauty of the building is that we’re going from completely empty floors, so they been able to make it so that every inch of that 500 square feet is extremely usable and efficient in the best way ever,” she said. “We’re seeing that people aren’t cooking (at home) as much.
“So we’re making smaller kitchens and more open space in the kitchens, having floating shelves instead of upper cabinets. It’s the look that the millennials living there want, minimal.”