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Fight over historic building heats up in downtown OKC

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- A small piece of Oklahoma City's history finds itself on the chopping block. The Film Exchange building just south of downtown at the corner of S.W. 5th and Robinson is in danger of being torn down.

The fight to save the nearly 90-year-old building is now heating up. Some windows are broken. The rest are boarded up.

The Film Exchange building has been vacant for years. Some believe the building needs to be demolished to clear the way for the 70 acre $130 million MAPS 3 central park.

"The building may be fine but if you don't have the right user it can harm the viability of the park," said consulting architect Hans Butzer.

A pedestrian promenade and great lawn will be built near where the Film Exchange currently sits. The problem is finding developers willing to invest in the building.

"Nobody has stepped up and said we have the money and park compatible use to make the park stronger," said Butzer.

"I came forward to be a champion for this building," said local historian Bradley Wynn.

Wynn says the Film Exchange building opened in 1926, storing films for distribution from Hollywood.

Wynn believes tearing the building down would destroy part of the city's history.

"You're wiping away a remnant of Oklahoma's past. That's why I'm against tearing it down. Not just its history, it represents more than that," said Wynn.

Ultimately, the MAPS 3 citizen advisory board listened to Wynn's arguments and asked for more time to study the issue. Wynn believes a developer can be found to make the building fit with the park.

Not everyone shares that optimism.

"We need to get the right users to make the park better and more viable," said Butzer.

"We shouldn't just remove it and start over. We don't have enough history left now," said Wynn.

One city councilman on the advisory board supports saving the building.

The city council will have the ultimate say on the issue.