OKLAHOMA CITY - Although the First National Building has been on the downtown scene for almost a century, many Oklahomans have never been able to get a close look at what the historic building has to offer.
For now, the 1 million square foot building sits empty.
But, developers said it won't stay that way for long.
After years of revolving ownership, an Oklahoma developer has purchased the First National Building for $23 million.
"When you research the history, you get the sense that you really can't own it. Standing in the Great Hall, you can't own the Great Hall. You can't own those vaults,” said Gary Brooks, president of Cornerstone Development and new owner of the First National Center.
When the building was created in the 1930s, bank robberies were common.
Designers created vaults with layers of protection.
Now, those vaults will serve as a unique dining space in a future restaurant.
"The hostess stand will be right here, so you'll enter the restaurant here," Brooks said.
In all, three buildings will take up a full block on Park Ave.
"We'll have two food and beverage outlets, two bars, two restaurants. It's got a 150-room hotel. We'll have about 10,000 feet of commercial/retail space and 200 apartments on the upper floors," he said.
The project, which is expected to cost $200 million, will be paid for with private and public money.
However, developers said the building will retain some of its historical significance with certain fixtures remaining in place.
"Transform it in a way that hopefully sets it on another path for the next 90 years," he said.
The Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce sent us a statement, saying:
“Having the leadership of Gary Brooks and his passion for Oklahoma City sets the presence for this property and the possibilities to come. The activation of First National will transform Park Avenue and create retail and restaurant offerings enhancing the downtown core,” said Tammy Fate, Manager of Retail Development and Recruitment, Greater Oklahoma City Chamber.
Brooks hopes to have the Center complete by the end of 2019.