OG&E planning new headquarters in downtown Oklahoma City

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 302 views 

A new high-rise building in Oklahoma City is likely to result in a higher utility bill for some Arkansas utility customers.

Oklahoma Gas and Electric confirmed reports that the company would abandon its current downtown Oklahoma City headquarters in order to be the anchor tenant of a new office complex to be built along Sheridan Avenue.

According to spokesman Brian Alford, the company is seeking to consolidate operations and moving into the new building, which he estimates could cost $100 million or more to build, would help the company accomplish that goal.

"Our current headquarters has served us very well for 85 years now, but the time has come to begin to plan for the future," he said. "Today we have more than 1,000 employees in the downtown Oklahoma City area and (they) are scattered in a lot of various locations. It creates a lot of inefficiencies. With this new home, we can put a lot of those employees under one roof."

But by eliminating the company's need to house employees in multiple locations throughout the downtown area, the company is likely to raise rates on its utility customers, he said. As for what those rate increases could be, Alford said that is to be determined.

"There are many variables and decisions that are still to be made. You'll have cost offsets and eliminations of other leases. In the end, the impact will be minimal on customer bills."

As no rate increases have been requested of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission or the Arkansas Public Works Commission, it is still to be determined just how minimal any impacts will be. Alford added that customers would likely see rate increases in three to five years, at the earliest.

The building, which OG&E will lease from Kestrel Investments, will sit at the intersection of Sheridan Boulevard and Walker Avenue. It is now the home of Stage Center, a defunct performing arts venue.

The height of the building has not yet been finalized, but Alford said the company's new headquarters was likely to be 16 stories tall, adding that the building is still in its design phase and heights could change. An initial application has been made with the Oklahoma City Planning Department that requests the razing of Stage Center.

Plans for the site also call for an additional smaller structure to possibly house a hotel. A parking garage will also be built at the site.

Alford said no plans have been made for what to do with the company's headquarters on North Harvey Avenue, but he said no matter what move the company made, the costs would be high.

"With our current facilities, if we stay in them, they are in dire need of investment. That investment is really an investment in continued inefficiency."

Should the company's new headquarters rise at the intersection, it would join Devon Energy Corporation as the second downtown employer to consolidate operations to one structure at the intersection of Sheridan and Walker. Devon's new headquarters, which opened in October 2012, stands at 50 stories tall and is the 39th largest building in the United States.