Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

These Walls: Sky Fitness and Wellbeing in Tulsa

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

These Walls: Sky Fitness and Wellbeing in Tulsa

Article excerpt

With our society's increasing emphasis on conservation and energy savings, the term "adaptive use" gets thrown around quite a bit in real estate. Sometimes such talk draws reflective nods, other times questioning or dubious stares.

But in more and more cases, cultural perceptions often present the most limiting factor. Unless asbestos or some other dangerous condition looms large, the technology and capabilities exist to cost- effectively refit most buildings along practical dreams.

Take the new Sky Fitness and Wellbeing center under construction in Tulsa Promenade Mall's former Mervyn's site.

That building opened in 1965 as a one-story grocery on the west side of the 400,000-square-foot Southland Shopping Center. Blueprints from 1985 show how the 40,000-square-foot site gained a second floor, both to accommodate new tenant Mervyn's and to align with the soon-to-start transformation of Southland into the two- story Tulsa Promenade Mall.

Although our society's now used to that enclosure process, that adaptive reuse still offers up surprises.

"They lowered the roof eight inches for some reason," said Jess Armstrong, a project designer with the Tulsa architectural and engineering firm Kinslow, Keith & Todd. "I've never seen that before on drawings. I suppose they had to meet some standard that Mervyn's had coming in."

"Maybe they didn't want to see the air conditioners," fellow KKT architect Carson Smith said jokingly.

Mervyn's hung around another 20 years until a wave of retail belt- tightening brought its Tulsa Promenade closure. The empty 80,000- square-foot hole stood dark and silent almost five years, just one of a growing number of abandoned "big box" retail sites across the nation, the industry seemingly stumped on what to do with their high ceilings and wide-open spaces.

Sky of Jenks LLC offered a partial solution in April, announcing a long-term lease with building owner MDS Acquisition LLC to remake the northern half of that Mervyn's site into their second Sky Fitness location. …

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