By Alex Cameron, NEWS 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- 2009 is expected to be a challenging year for businesses, even in "recession-proof" Oklahoma City. The economy has many concerned the city will lose its forward momentum.
Devon Energy is one of the city's most critical businesses, with close to 2,000 employees. Devon's Chairman and CEO Larry Nichols said, despite the economy, plans for a new building and expansions haven't changed.
"2009 is going to be a tough year for everybody. We're not immune from that. We'll certainly have to reduce our budget some," Nichols said.
Devon's Chairman and CEO said the company will reduce its drilling activity this year, but unless energy prices hit rock-bottom, they will continue moving forward, as scheduled, with longer-term projects like the construction of Devon's new headquarters.
"It's a long-term project. We said it would take a year to plan it and three years to build it, so we're still on that schedule," Nichols said.
Since the building's conceptual design was unveiled last August, architects have been refining it, getting it ready for actual construction. Nichols said expansion of the west galleria parking lot will begin this summer, while work on the massive tower should commence soon after.
"This fall, 2009, we will start demolition for part of the site where the tower's going to go, so we can build the piers to support the building," Devon's Chairman and CEO said.
A $750 million project that will be 54 stories high. Nichols said they haven't cut the height of the building, but they are looking at ways to save money on the project, and are carefully watching spending.
Still, Nichols said they won't cut any figurative corners on the project, just as they haven't with the business.
"We're certainly having bad times in this country, but Devon will be able to continue with all our essential programs, and be in even better shape when this economy rebounds, which it will," Nichols said.
In the meantime, Nichols said, construction costs are coming down, which is a great help in getting the building built on schedule. The plan is for Devon employees to move into the new headquarters building in the winter of 2012-2013.