Plans To Rezone Historic Building On Classen Circle

Wednesday, July 12th 2017, 10:49 pm
By: Grant Hermes

A plan to raze an iconic set of Oklahoma City bars, restaurants and shops has drawn criticism within an hour of being made public on Wednesday. 

Filed with the City last week, Braum's has applied to put a new location on a lot near the corner of Classen Blvd. and 51st Street, known as Classen Circle. The company purchased the lot in 2015, but building means rezoning the block and demolishing the iconic building there; the Donnay Building.

The building includes Oklahoma City staples like the Hi-Lo Club, The Drunken Fry and Charlie's Records.  It's been there since 1954 and news about tearing it down upset thousands.

Online groups formed, garnering hundreds of comments.

The Okie Mod Squad, a design appreciation group, later launched a petition to stop the company, which was signed by more than 5,000 people within hours of it going up online.

“I love architecture. Old architecture, new architecture. I don't see a lot of Braum’s being pieces of architecture,” Okie Mod Squad member and owner of Space, 20th Century Modern Koby Click said.

Click buys and sells rare or unique mid-century style furniture. He said the Donnay has been allowed to fall into dilapidation and instead hopes the city will find a solution other than razing it.

“I hope it stays maybe somebody can step in and have a plan that can make it bright and shiny,” he said. “Keep the neon lights lit.”

Neighbors were divided. Some say the seemingly run-down store fronts are a part of the neighborhood tapestry others saying they'd be happy to see them go.

“It's a landmark,” neighbor Robert Caldwell said. “Putting a Braum's there would be a detriment to the community.” Caldwell said he was a bar tender at the HiLo Club and washed dishes at the now closed restaurant, The Patio.

Down the street, Caldwell’s new neighbor Mark Summer said he didn’t care whether the buildings stayed or were torn down.

“I have no problem with it. I walked down there the other day and all those businesses are pretty aged over there,” he said. 

A spokesperson for the company was reached and did not have a comment at the time of this article.

According to a City of Oklahoma City spokesperson, Kristy Yager, the City’s planning committee is set to hear the proposal Aug. 24. If nothing impedes the plan, it could go before the city council Oct. 10.