Braum’s looking to rezone property, demolish and build new store; HiLo Club, others left in limbo

OKLAHOMA CITY - An Oklahoma City-based ice cream and dairy store is asking the city to rezone property to build a new location on the city's north side. But the unexpected request is leaving long-time bars and businesses in limbo.

Braum's Ice Cream & Dairy Stores submitted a rezoning application for a parcel of land near NW 50th Street and Classen Circle last Friday. Many might know the triangular block better as the home of the HiLo Club, Drunken Fry  and other businesses.

The rezoning request was first reported by NewsChannel 4's partner OKCTalk.com Wednesday Morning.

The application asks the planning commission to rezone six lots from residential to commercial; a conceptual site plan shows buildings on the block would be razed and made into a parking lot for a new Braum's restaurant and store.

"It’s an insult. It absolutely is," said Topher Copeland, manager of the HiLo Club. "And it’s heartbreaking for a lot of people because a lot of people built their lives around here."

Copeland says the long-whispered about rumors became a reality for him and others who make a livelihood at the handful of businesses on the block, including Charlie's Jazz-Rhythm & Blues Records.

"It’s a little overwhelming and people are not very happy right now about the whole idea of it not being here anymore."

The building that is home to the HiLo and Drunken Fry was built in 1948 as the Donnay Building. Of the seven parcels on the block, six are owned by Red Oak Properties and were purchased between 1994 and 1995. The other is owned by a Braum's real estate company.

Braum's officials told KFOR they have 'No comment' on this issue.

But calls to save the building and the block have been growing since news broke of the plans.

"Braum’s is a vital part of this community too. So I would hope that the powers that be at Braum’s would see the petition, they would see how much people love this building, and that they might think twice about tearing it down,” said Lynne Rostochil, who started a petition to save the Donnay building.

Rostochil, who is also part of an Oklahoma mid-century architecture and design preservation group OkieModSquad, says the building is iconic to Oklahoma City and worth saving.

"It’s quirky, it’s funky, it’s fun, it’s what makes Oklahoma City distinctive and there aren’t a lot of places like that anymore."