Monarch to rise in Midtown
4-story office building will fill ‘missing tooth’ on Robinson
Midtown Renaissance Group, which has been focusing on smaller infill over the past couple of years, is resuming new development with plans set to build a four-story office building along Robinson Avenue.
The partners, Bob Howard, Mickey Clagg and Chris Fleming, own dozens of residential, retail and office properties in Midtown with major developments including the Twelve Twelve Building, the Guardian Garage, Fassler Hall, Plaza Court, the Packard Building and the Buick Building.
Construction of “Monarch,” 1133 N Robinson Ave., is expected to start next month with completion by April 2019. Clagg and Fleming say the address has the advantage of being a half block from an OKC Streetcar stop and is within walking distance of an array of restaurants and shops.
“If you’re in the Central Business District, it could take 15 minutes from your office to get out of your parking garage before you’re even on the road to drive to your destination,” Clagg said. “Midtown is only a couple of streets away from the CBD, but that 15 minutes turns into two or three minutes. It’s kind of the best of both worlds. It’s very walkable while still be being drivable.”
From the ashes
The new building will be built on a vacant lot that for several decades was the site of a mansion that was once home to Guardian Funeral Home. Midtown Renaissance bought the property and then sold it to a group that was planning to redevelop to become home to the Oklahoma Foundation for Digestive Research.
That plan ended when the building caught fire a few days before Thanksgiving in 2008.
“Some homeless people were in there trying to keep warm,” Fleming said. “All that was left was a garage in the back and it was a charred skeleton.”
Midtown Renaissance repurchased the property in 2011 and has used it for parking ever since.
“It’s been two to three years that we’ve been talking about the site,” Fleming said. “We did some did some plans and we liked the direction the project was going. We worked with a couple of tenants that got us excited, but things happened with those potential tenants so we had let it drop.”
A tenant is now committed to one of the four floors, enough, Fleming said, to start the project. He added the development group has long wanted to infill the large gap between what is now the Guardian Garage to the south, home to apartments and Garage Burgers, and the Art Deco Stryker office building to the north.
“It’s sat dormant,” Fleming said. “It’s just used for parking and we feel like there is the ability for there to be parking and a building on the site.”
‘True urban feel’
The 54,00-square-foot building will consist of glass, steel and masonry construction with a twostory parking structure to span a portion of the block going west from Robinson. Space for a second, future building, is being reserved on the west side of the block that will act as a bookend to the parking.
The building is designed by architect Brian Fitzsimmons and will be built by Lingo Construction. Fitzsimmons said the building is designed to fill “a missing tooth along Robinson” and provide “a true urban feel to the street.”
Fitzsimmons said the building at ground level starts out with a white steel facade that will be at the same height as the Guardian Garage and Stryker buildings. The top two “glass box” floors, meanwhile, will have a slight setback from the street.
“It will feel like the same pattern for pedestrians,” Fitzsimmons said. “It feels as if you are walking down a corridor with two-story buildings.”
The parking, about 200 spaces, is expected to accommodate Monarch tenants and those patronizing the Garage Burgers and other adjoining businesses.
The Monarch is the first building built exclusively for office space by Midtown Renaissance, which has pursued mixed use at most of their larger developments.
“We don’t want to dilute where we have retail on Walker and then move the center of that to Robinson,” Fleming said. “It wouldn’t be good for anybody, existing tenants and new tenants. We have two existing restaurants already on this block and when you think about the parking demand for that and then all the restaurants added in the neighborhood, it’s one of those things that is not high on our radar to do on this site.”
Fleming would not identify the tenant signed up for the building, but he added the lease is enough to allow construction to get started.
“Having a tenant for part of the building is helpful,” Fleming said. “In Oklahoma, it’s very hard to lease a building that is not built. You’re basing a building on renderings or plans. Having a tenant allows us to build a building that isn’t 100 percent speculative and one we want to see built for movement to continue in the neighborhood.”
The Monarch Building at 1133 N Robinson Ave. starts with a two-story white steel and glass facade with a two-story “glass box” above that is set back to give pedestrians the feel of walking down a street lined with two-story buildings.
The Monarch Building, 1133 N Robinson Ave., will feature a design that transitions to a modern reflection of the Art Deco Stryker building to the north.
Surface parking and an empty lot have stood as the only remnant of the former Guardian Funeral Home that operated at 1133 N Robinson for more than a half century before it closed in the early 2000s. The building was leveled by fire in 2008.
A parking deck connected to Robinson Avenue via a drive under the second floor of the Monarch is expected to provide ample parking for tenants and visitors to nearby Midtown Renaissance buildings.
A drive under the second floor of the Monarch Building with a drop off lane is part of a design inspired by similar buildings more prevalent in Europe.