Local group fighting plans to demolish historic buildings in downtown Oklahoma City

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OKLAHOMA CITY - A local preservation group is fighting demolition plans with a petition.

Organizers say nine buildings could be demolished to add a 27-story tower and two parking garages to downtown Oklahoma City.

The plans would be to demolish the Black Hotel, which opened its doors in 1930, the Lunchbox eatery and the Auto Hotel.

"Disappointment, absolute disappointment," said David Pettyjohn, executive director of Preservation Oklahoma.

David Pettyjohn doesn't think a new skyscraper should replace historic downtown structures, including the Union Bus Station, which was built in 1941.

"It is the last remaining block with the most intact historic structures of Oklahoma City commercial history," Pettyjohn said.

The plan is being proposed by the same developers who created the Devon Tower.

However, Preservation Oklahoma is responding to this request with a petition.

"We have received signatures from all over the United States, from North Carolina to New York, encouraging the Downtown Design Review Committee to preserve Oklahoma City's history," Pettyjohn said.

They will present their argument to the committee in January.

"Some people might think that the committee is making this decision based on how they feel or what they think, but they are making it based on how they think the projects meet or don’t meet the regulations and guidelines," said Lisa Chronister, with the Oklahoma City Planning Department.

For some, these buildings represent an emotional attachment.

"As we look at this block and we realize what it represents, and we look at these historic structures, it's important to note it's more than just bricks,” Pettyjohn said. “It's more than just windows. It's more than just floors and ceilings."

For him, it is a symbol of how much the city has grown.

"It's representative of who we are. It represents our past," he said.

The Downtown Design Review Committee will meet on Jan. 15 to decide on the future of the buildings.

For more information on Preservation Oklahoma, or to sign their petition, click here.

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