Q&A - October 14, 2016

Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology has purchased the buildings on the northeast corner of Grand Avenue and 5th Street in Downtown Okmulgee. Our plan is to convert them into apartments (lofts and flats) for 75 college students by January 2018.

Q: Can you tell us about the activity going on with your building downtown?

I know some of you were beginning to wonder if it would ever actually happen. Yes, at long last, work has officially started on the renovation of the Old Post Office Complex in downtown Okmulgee. Over the next eleven months, dust will fly, hammers will pound, and saws will ring as we get this beauty ready to celebrate her 100th birthday. Crews of subcontractors, under the direction of Oakridge Builders, will be going through every square inch of this nearly 40,000 sq. ft. facility. They will be preserving and restoring many parts of the building while redesigning and modernizing other parts.

One of their first challenges will be to compensate for the floor height differences between the two connecting buildings. What we are calling the Old Post Office Complex is actually two separate buildings (a federal building on the west and a commercial building on the east). The two buildings were never intended to connect on the inside, so the floors between the two buildings do not match up. The floors in the west building are higher than the floors in the east building. The contractors plan to excavate the concrete on the first floor of the west building and lower this floor when they pour new concrete. This will also accommodate all the new kitchen and bathroom plumbing drains for this end of the complex. As for the second floor, a series of ramps and steps will be fabricated to ease the transition between buildings.

There are only two staircases in the whole complex right now, but when we are done refurbishing this two-story structure, it will have three sets of stairs and an elevator between floors. The grand stairway in the entrance of the west building will be restored to its former glory with some modifications made to help it comply with modern safety codes. The water damaged original stairs in the east building will be demolished and replaced with a newly configured set of stairs built on site. As these two buildings will now be fully connected on the inside, we will strategically place a brand new set of stairs between the buildings (toward the north) and a new elevator between the buildings (toward the south). This will be a special elevator that can make two stops on the second floor (with front and back elevator doors) to provide for the different floor heights between buildings.

An amazing amount of thought and design has gone into this project. We believe such modifications will ensure the Old Post Office Complex will be safe and accessible for all future residents.

I will try to provide more updates as construction progresses, but if you have additional questions or comments about the downtown student housing project of OSUIT, please send them to me at osuit-president@okstate.edu.