Devon Energy's top man started his first day of work on Tuesday, sort of.
Devon's Executive Chairman Larry Nichols is one of the latest group to move into the new downtown Devon tower. With the tower just about four months away from completion, employees have begun moving in phases.
Surprisingly though, Nichols said that Devon's initial decision to move sparked some naysayers.
"There are some people that said 'That's gonna crush the downtown market forever,'" said Nichols. "And there are others that said 'No, that's gonna create the opportunity for a lot of companies that wanted to move here.'"
Continental Resources, another Oklahoma energy company, took that opportunity to move downtown. With Continental waiting in the wings, it added some urgency to Devon's move.
"We wanted them to move into our building," Nichols said. "So we had a fairly aggressive time schedule."
The addition of Continental to a downtown area that already houses giants like Devon, Chesapeake, and Sand Ridge moves Oklahoma City up a couple notches nationally, according to Nichols.
"We were back there, back at the end of the wagon train," Nichols said. "Now, I think Oklahoma City is second only to Houston in the concentration of energy companies in one location."
The ground floors of the tower's rotunda are currently open, and the new restaurant NEBU already has a fairly steady crowd. The building gets more visitors almost every day, from not-yet-moved employees to curious downtown. Nichols is pleased with the new energy that having everyone in the same building creates.
"And you can feel it when you walk through the rotunda," said Nichols.
Nichols moved into a ninth floor office, but is scheduled to move up another 30-plus stories soon.