Two years ago, when Oklahoma City-based Devon Energy announced the acquisition of WPX Energy, a crater large enough to accommodate 80 Olympic-size swimming pools was on the construction site for WPX’s future headquarters at 222 N. Detroit Ave.
Tulsa Mayor GT Bynum remembers those times vividly.
“All I could imagine in my mind was this giant hole wishing us luck in Tulsa,” he said. “Instead, because of the Devon team’s corporate culture, commitment to community, and building a community here in Oklahoma, they never missed a beat. … We are very grateful, (then CEO of WPX and now President and CEO of Devon) Rick, (Muncrief) for you and your team.
This commitment was on full display when the building was inaugurated on Monday. While WPX’s operations in Tulsa have been dissolved, part of the company’s legacy will live on in the 11-story, roughly 260,000-square-foot structure, officials said.
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“From my perspective, this is not just a celebration for Devon, the history and legacy of WPX and our people,” Muncrief said. “Most importantly, it’s really a celebration, I believe, for the city of Tulsa.”
A total of 30,000 cubic meters of concrete and 4 million pounds of rebar were used to build the juggernaut, which has nearly 700 covered parking spaces, 245,000 square feet of office space – the sole tenant of the building, the law firm Crowe & Dunlevy, has leased the entire sixth floor – and 15,000 square feet of retail space.
Separating the tiered structure, a large covered walkway connects Guthrie Green to John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park.
“We felt like we really wanted to send the right message to Tulsa, not just to current residents but to future residents as well,” Muncrief said. “We wanted to make sure the headquarters had a 222 Detroit address. We wanted to make sure we were facing east towards the Greenwood area. We wanted to make sure this passage was something very welcoming to John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park across the street and Guthrie Green, both of which are real treasures for the city of Tulsa.
“…We wanted to make sure we were honoring the city of Tulsa in the right way and supporting our friends and neighbors here in the Greenwood area and the arts district.”
Officials have no plans to name the building anything other than “222 North Detroit Avenue,” although naming rights opportunities may materialize with future tenants, a company spokeswoman said.
“Each era for a city…it’s defined by the things that are built in those time periods,” Bynum said. “For us here in Tulsa. You think of the great waves of growth we had in the late 1920s and early 1930s. You think of Waite Phillips building the Philtower. Waite Phillips is long gone but the Philtower still stands, a symbol of architectural beauty at the height of Oklahoma’s oil boom.
“You think of the 70s and 80s and the BOK Tower that John Williams built here and how it connected the arts and saved the city centre. And you think about this time that we’re in right now. Long after people stop talking about any of us who are here today, they will remember this building and what it symbolized for this time in our city.
On hand for Monday’s autograph was Kevin Johnson, a former Phoenix Suns star guard and former Sacramento City Mayor.
Along with his wife, Michelle, Johnson is the founder of Fixins Soul Kitchen, which is reportedly considering a ground-floor lease for a restaurant that could open next year at 222 North Detroit Avenue, two people with knowledge of the project said Monday. . Fixins has other locations in Sacremento and Los Angeles, according to its website.
Johnson declined to comment on the event.
Related video: Time-lapse of downtown Tulsa building 222 North Detroit (former WPX Energy headquarters)