Q&A - September 8, 2017

As major renovations continue on the Grand Old Post Office complex, a few “Monday Morning Quarterbacks” have questions. Let’s address them…

Q: With all the work you’re putting into it, why didn’t you just tear down those old buildings downtown and start over with something brand new?

I love new buildings, but I love old buildings too. They both have their place in our society. Anyone can build a new building almost anywhere they want, but there are only limited opportunities to renovate a historic building.

It’s a fact that some old buildings are in good shape, but some are beyond the point of no return. Some had stronger materials used in their original construction and were better engineered to withstand the effects of time while others are weaker due to inadequate or substandard construction. Some historic buildings have avoided major catastrophes while others have suffered the ravages of storms, fire, or the like. Some old buildings have been well-maintained by their owners over the years while others have been allowed to deteriorate due to deferred maintenance, abandonment, or neglect. The point is, not all historic buildings are created equal. Every building should be carefully inspected prior to a renovation project to determine if the historic value or significance of the building is worth the cost of renovation.

No one is making old buildings anymore, so when the supply is gone, it’s gone forever. I believe in this generation, we have an obligation to save the buildings we can. Now, I’m all in favor of demolishing derelict buildings that are unsafe, but the historic buildings that can be saved should be preserved for future generations.

It would have been extremely shortsighted to tear down the original Okmulgee post office building or its neighboring structure, and frankly, we never even entertained the thought. The buildings in the Historic District of Downtown Okmulgee are a treasured part of our town’s history, and they are protected on the National Register of Historic Places. OSUIT is proud to be able to help preserve these structures for all future Okmulgee residents and visitors to see. 

Q: If you were just going to build a dorm for students, why didn’t you just build a new one on campus?

Many people have mischaracterized this project as simply being a student housing project, but what they fail to understand is that this was never simply a housing project for students; this is a community revitalization project that uses the university’s need for student housing as a catalyst for fundamental change. It serves the twofold purpose of meeting a need for student housing while literally rebuilding vacant buildings in downtown Okmulgee.

As I have mentioned before, OSUIT could have easily invested institutional funds to build another new residence hall on campus, but that investment would have done nothing to encourage a single new business venture in Okmulgee. By investing in downtown Okmulgee, OSUIT hopes to inspire other investors to provide additional entertainment and retail options that will generate new revenue streams and benefit the overall economy.

Your questions are always welcome. Please forward them to osuit-president@okstate.edu