Devon Tower will cultivate Myriad Gardens

Friday, August 22nd 2008, 8:36 pm
By: News 9

By Alex Cameron, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The plans for Devon Energy's new headquarters building calls for a connectivity and harmony between their new campus and the Myriad Botanical Gardens.

Friday, Devon and city leaders were across the street from their proposed space, walking the gardens with a critical eye.

"What we're doing is going through a process of thinking, how would we maximize the potential of the gardens," said Jim Tolbert, the Chairman of the Myriad Gardens Authority.

No one is questioning the beauty of the Myriad Botanical Gardens, but the general consensus is the gardens have never been developed to their full potential. The Devon Tower presents an opportunity to do that.

The skyscraper is expected to generate tens of millions of dollars in new TIF funds for the city, property taxes that have to be reinvested in the area.

"It's enough money to do anything that everyone agrees makes sense, without being extravagant and doing things that are just plain silly," Devon Energy CEO Larry Nichols said.

In the category of 'just plain silly,' all agree, would be doing away with the Crystal Bridge, which won't happen. However, a nationally known landscape architect, hired by Devon, sees great potential for enhancing the park, making it more attractive to more people.

"The original plans were based on Tivoli gardens, had a lot of food activities, food and cafes and restaurants. I think there's probably opportunity for that to occur," Landscape architect Jim Burnett said. "There's mention of a dog park. There's discussion of a skate park, so I think the sky's the limit right now."

"Over a long period of time now, almost thirty years, we've pieced this together, and now's a great opportunity to realize, I think, the real potential to make it one of the most glorious things in the city," Tolbert said.

Citizens met at the Myriad Gardens Saturday to discuss the future of the botanical gardens. 

Dozens gave their input to Devon Energy CEO Larry Nichols and other city officials. 

Some of the suggestions included restaurants, spray grounds for kids and more outdoor activities.  The city and two architects hired by Devon will now evaluate the suggestions and start drawing up plans in about two weeks.