Before Tulsans can fight City Hall they have to find it and for some finding City Hall has recently become a major problem.
It used to be that City Hall was very easy to find.
It was located in what is called the Civic Center, a place where one also finds the Tulsa County Court House, the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office, elected officials of Tulsa County, the majority of Tulsa County offices, the Tulsa Police Department, the Tulsa Municipal Court, the Tulsa City-County Library central branch and the Tulsa Convention Center.
Adjacent to the Civic Center complex are the Oklahoma State Office Building, Oklahoma DHS, the Federal Courthouse and the downtown post office. Tulsa’s former City Hall fit right in with this one-stop area for the vast majority of federal, state, county and city government offices and functions.
But not anymore.
Recently Tulsa City Hall ceased to exist and the functions of city hall were moved to a building on the east side of downtown, a building called One Technology Center.
One Technology Center is a 15-story glass box resembling the “Borg Cube” and it is called that by some of its detractors. It’s also called “Taylor Tower” by other detractors. This in honor of Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor who managed to stampede Tulsa City Counselors into voting to purchase the building for $76 million dollars last year, even while the City of Tulsa can not afford to fix its streets or fund its police and fire departments properly.
At some point in time during the rush to purchase One Technology Center (hereafter called “OTC”) the elected officials of Tulsa realized that (1) even if all city departments/offices moved into OTC there would still be lots of empty space left in the building that would have to be rented out to anyone willing to pay a premium price for office space and (2) that the City of Tulsa should not be in the office rental business in competition with private companies trying to rent out office space in downtown Tulsa. It was at this point that a decision was made that would result in city hall becoming “lost”.
Tulsa’s elected officials decided to enter into a master lease agreement with Bank of Oklahoma (BOK) which would take over leasing operations at OTC. Since two private tenants, Level 3 Communications and Deloitte & Touche, were already in the building, BOK guaranteed for 10 years the rent revenue from these two tenants. This apparently to assure Tulsa taxpayers that if nothing else, some income from the lease of private space was a sure thing for 10 years.
But, and it is a big BUT, as part of the master lease agreement the name of the building is to remain “One Technology Center” and the City of Tulsa is prohibited from erecting a sign on the building.
But. But… BUT!!!
Yeah, the taxpayers of Tulsa own the building but can not change its name to something logical like “City Hall” and can not erect a sign on the building that says, well, that says anything other than “One Technology Center”, the only signage permitted under the master least agreement.
Apparently someone is getting “heat” over the missing “City Hall” fiasco, and the city’s Legal Department has concluded that there is no provision in the master lease agreement that prohibits a temporary sign that says “City Hall” being placed over the public entrance to the building.
Tulsa City Counselors have been told that a “large banner” will be strung across the top of the public entrance to OTC to help identify the building and that additional banners and signs are to be hung from light poles in the area, this to direct the public to the building. The sight of several plastic banners flapping in the breeze and proclaiming “CITY HALL” really ought to polish Tulsa’s image, don’t you think?
Toss in a couple of worn out couches on the sidewalk near the entrance to the OTC, a rusting Camero on jack stands in the street and a pit bull tied to each end of the Camaro and Tulsa’s new “City Hall” will on the map…
Only in Oklahoma folks, only in Oklahoma…