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New East Village office redevelopment showcases large-scale historic preservation

New East Village office redevelopment showcases large-scale historic preservation

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Housed on three floors in the Petroleum Club building, local digital media company ConsumerAffairs was seeking a way to level the work environment.

It found it in a historic renovation.

Eye-catching and massive, the firm’s new environs are a $13.2 million, 44,253-square-foot redevelopment of four buildings in the 600 block of East Fourth Street.

“As we were growing and being on multiple levels in the same building (floors 14-16), we realized that is a limiter to collaboration,” said Daniel Brauer, ConsumerAffairs’ head of product.

“We loved the idea of having a single, contiguous space where we could have all employees in the same place. We like to be able to have that area for a collaboration to happen. It’s a rare space to be able to find.”

Zac Carman is CEO at ConsumerAffairs.

“We didn’t appreciate at the Petroleum Club truly the way space influences people,” he said. “So, if you were on (floor) 14, you might as well be in Austin (Texas).”

The refurbishing was spearheaded by Carpathia, a partnership of Tulsa developers Ross Group, headed by Warren Ross, and Nelson-Stowe, with principals Elliot Nelson and Casey Stowe.

The developers share a passion for historic preservation. In fact, the newest project is similar in scale to the old International Harvester building (about 37,000 square feet), which Ross Group made into its downtown headquarters in late 2015.

“It played a huge key in getting comfortable and understanding the leasability of it,” Ross Group Vice-President of Development Ross Newman said of having the company’s base as a template.

“It (historic preservation) has been a driving force with Warren when we decided to move into downtown and really make a presence for our company. It’s one that we see as an excellent way of recruitment for ourselves, and through that whole process, we just really fell in love with old buildings …”

The structure formerly housed aerospace firm NORDAM and before that a cabinetry and furniture business that dates back close to a century, Newman said.

The aim “really was trying to leave — and this was really driven by the tenant — as much of existing interiors in place as possible,” he said. “You will see a lot of exposed brick, years and years of painting and some of the graffiti and other markings left by the previous tenant. They remain just to kind to give that character of what the building used to be.”

The floor features a wide-open layout with brick columns throughout a portion of the footprint. In the middle of the space is a common area with a kitchen and market, as well as a gaming section with a punching bag and tables for foosball and ping-pong. Clear garage doors and white boards adorn some of the conference rooms.

W Design, of Tulsa, was the architect for the interior, Oklahoma City-based Mass Architects oversaw the exterior renovation. State and federal historic tax credits are being used in the rehabilitation, which also is in a tax increment financing (TIF) district, Newman said.

“The other benefit of the way we have set up this space is that it can help facilitate the entire company coming here for a period of time even if they are never in Tulsa until that period,” Brauer said. “We can house them for a training or we can house them for an all-company gathering in a way that most spaces couldn’t …”

All 100 of ConsumerAffairs’ Tulsa employees — half the firm’s total — are expected to move into the new location when the COVID-19 pandemic relents, Brauer said.

“Once vaccines are out there, we hope that we’ll have everybody come back.” he said. “What we see in our employee population is we all miss that. You have to work with a little extra empathy when everybody’s working from home, especially if you have kids, and we have lots of young parents. It’s been a lot to navigate for them.

“I’m sure we would all love to come back to the office and experience that again, hopefully soon.”

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