Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

When Your Office Is Your Home Away from Home

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

When Your Office Is Your Home Away from Home

Article excerpt

When Bob and Vicki Hidde lost power at their Tulsa home, they followed the example of most ice storm refugees and sought out a hotel - which required a multi-night commitment, paid in advance.

So the Hiddes, facing a possible 10-day outage, decided to camp out at Bob's downtown Tulsa office.

"It is hard," Vicki Hidde said of the terrazzo floors in that 400- square-foot office, "but I did get a very good night's sleep last night and I feel fortunate that I'm warm."

With most Tulsa homes knocked off the electrical grid at some time during the week, and the hotels generally full, several downtown office tenants chose to use their workspace for more than just work.

While they didn't want to encourage it, most of the building managers decided to look the other way.

"It would be pretty cold-hearted to have an office building that had heat and air conditioning and electricity for coffee and showers, and not allow people who had none of the amenities that we take for granted available at home, and not allow them to utilize them for a few days until their power's restored," said Terry Argue, president of Coldwell Banker Commercial Argue Properties, whose firm oversees the Mid-Continent Tower.

"While we wouldn't want to make a habit of that, in a situation like this, we're thrilled to be offering that situation to our tenants," he said.

As one of the nicest office towers in the state, Mid-Continent offers several quality amenities for such residential needs, including hot, sparkling showers and other options at the St. Francis Health Zone. The Philtower, which houses the third-floor headquarters for Hidde Career Services, also offers a shower - in what was once the building engineer's basement locker room.

"It's not pretty," admitted Richard Winton of River City Development LLC, which oversees the tower. "It's a rusty steel cubicle. But it does work."

Winton, like Argue, has not tried to count how many tenants have chosen to bunk in their offices.

"We're not actively encouraging it, but we're not forbidding it," said Winton. "I know we might be risking some code violation, but they're not living here. They're just spending the night. And I don't think anyone with the city is going to worry about it when 50 percent of the homes are without power."

Tim Strange, who knew of no similar situations in Oklahoma City, said the dilemma raised some sticky operational issues.

"There's the service angle, there's also the expense angle as an owner," said the managing director of Sperry Van Ness in Oklahoma City. "Those people are there, they're going to be using the lights, the toilets. That would be the dilemma."

But when he considered that the tenants had already leased the space, he better understood the Tulsa property manager positions.

"It's no different if they're working all night, if you think about it," he said. …

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