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Fight to save historic Brockway Center continues in Oklahoma City

OKLAHOMA CITY – Negotiations continue over the fight to save a historic property in Oklahoma City.

For decades, the Brockway Center served as a safe place for African-American women.

For 50 years, the Oklahoma City Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs met at the home.

“I was tutored, given snacks, given supervision and taught about the world outside of our neighborhood,” said Melba Holt, a former member of the Oklahoma City Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs. “It was a bridge, not a wall.”

The Child Abuse Response and Evaluation Center, or CARE, bought the property in 2018 in hopes of building a new, larger facility.

However, many in the community were concerned that the Brockway Center, which has stood for more than 100 years, would be torn down.

“Our history needs to be preserved,” Holt said. “It doesn’t need to be destroyed.”

Now, it seems that the Brockway Center might be saved.

The CARE Center announced on Thursday afternoon that it would accept an offer by the Oklahoma City Redevelopment Authority to purchase the Brockway Center as long as they move it to land that the OCURA already owns in the neighborhood.

“OCURA already owns land in the neighborhood where it could settle the house,” said CARE Center CEO Stacy McNeiland. “The house can not be safely renovated to meet the needs of the CARE Center, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have value or purpose for someone else. We need the full lot for The CARE Center, and OCURA already owns land in the neighborhood. We believe this is a compromise that will serve the needs of everyone involved.”

The OCURA offered to purchase the home for $350,000, and the CARE Center would've retained the back half of the lot, which is currently a parking lot.

However, the CARE Center says building on the parking lot could create problems for them in the future.

“Building on the existing parking lot would make us non-compliant on specific safety standards, including parking requirements, lot coverage regulations and fire separation requirements established by the Capitol Medical Zoning Commission (CMZ),” McNeiland said. “While we could apply for variances, there is no guarantee those variances would be granted. That’s simply not a viable option for our nonprofit.”

The CARE Center proposed a counteroffer. In addition to accepting the $350,000 and moving the Brockway Center, the CARE Center is asking OCURA to help with the nonprofit's legal bills.

“We have appeared before the CMZ and its committees five times,” McNeiland said.  “The CMZ granted our demolition permit on May 22, and after a long process, we believe we are within our legal rights to move forward. OCURA wants the structure and the CARE Center needs the land. We hope OCURA will agree that this is a solution benefits everyone."

The organization gave the OCURA a deadline of just a few hours to respond to the counteroffer. At this point, it is unclear if an agreement was reached.

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