BOK will anchor new tower in OKC

Artistic photo of light and buildings

The move to the 27-story building will unite BOK’s operations.

The Oklahoman

Sep 11, 2015

The state’s largest bank announced Thursday it is going to consolidate its Oklahoma City operations and become the name anchor tenant in a 27-story tower being built at 499 W. Sheridan Ave.

Bank of Oklahoma joins Devon Energy Corp. as the two main tenants in the building, which will be named BOK Park Plaza. The move will involve 111 employees who already work downtown at BOK Plaza, 201 Robert S. Kerr Ave., and 124 employees who work at the Commerce Center building, 9520 N. May Ave. in northwest Oklahoma City.

John Higginbotham, Oklahoma City CEO for BOK, made the announcement to employees about 8:30 a.m. Thursday.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to bring a large number of our Oklahoma City employees together into one space and we feel confident it will create new synergies and foster more collaboration within our workforce,” Higginbotham said. “This will ultimately result in a more cohesive BOK team and provide greater resources and efficiencies to our clients. This relocation represents an investment by BOK in the community and the ongoing renaissance taking place downtown.”

Higginbotham said the relocation also will involve the move of its banking branch to the ground floor at 499 W Sheridan. The company is expected to occupy a total of 100,000 square feet, including the top four floors of the new tower.

“We’re excited about having that presence in the skyline,” Higginbotham said. “As we thought about the name, we liked the idea of the park being built nearby and the renaissance we’re seeing … we look at Oklahoma City as a high-growth area.”

Bank of Oklahoma has operations in eight states, its assets total $31 billion, and it is among the top 40 financial institutions in the United States.

BOK Park Plaza is being developed by Hines and designed by architect Jon Pickard, who previously teamed up with Devon Energy on construction of Devon Energy Center. Leasing for the property will be handled by Mark Beffort, CEO of New-mark Grubb Levy Strange Beffort. Travis Mason with Commercial Oklahoma assisted Bank of Oklahoma in securing the lease.

“BOK Park Plaza is a welcome addition to the Oklahoma City skyline,” Beffort said. “Its design and infrastructure are an excellent complement to the recently completed Devon Tower. Bank of Oklahoma’s occupancy will lead what we expect to be a diverse and outstanding tenant base and amenities.”

The announcement coincides with implosions set for this Sunday for the last two remaining structures on the new tower site — the former Hotel Black and the Motor Hotel.

Beffort said he’s not worried about the vacant space that will be created by the move out of BOK Plaza, noting Class A office vacancy is at 3.8 percent.

“It’s going to empty out about 75,000 square feet,” Beffort said. “When you look at our total base, over 8 million square feet, it’s less than 1 percent. It is first-floor space and it will be very desirable for office and other types of uses. If I owned that building, I’d think I could find an alternative use in a short period of time.”

Rainey Williams, who owns BOK Plaza, said he was anticipating the announcement.

“We have known that BOK intended to move for some time,” Williams said. “While we are disappointed to see them leave, their space was significantly reduced at the time of our purchase in 2007 and the majority of the building is occupied by a diverse group of other tenants. We are confident that we will be able to fill the space in due course.”

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