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[IMGCAP(1)]OKLAHOMA CITY-The proposed 1.9-million-sf Devon Energy Corp.’s world headquarters will be the largest and tallest office tower in Oklahoma City, with experts saying the $750-million project is indicative of where the city has been going for awhile. When completed in 2012, the 54-story office tower in the CBD will be a central point for Devon Energy’s current operations.

Plans for the building were unveiled before the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority in recent days. The authority, which has approved the high rise, owns the development site along Sheridan Avenue. Pickard Chilton Architects Inc. of New Haven, CT has designed the building and Houston-based Hines Interest is its development manager.

In March, Devon Energy announced plans to remain headquartered in Oklahoma City and build the high rise. The company is leasing 669,668 sf in five buildings in the CBD: its headquarters at 20 N. Broadway Ave. and space in First National Center at 120 N. Robinson Ave., Chase Tower at 100 N. Broadway Ave., Corporate Tower at 101 N. Robinson Ave. and a North Broadway Avenue building near Third Street.

[IMGCAP(2)]Mark Beffort, managing director in Oklahoma City for Grubb & Ellis Co., says the authority’s approval came as no surprise. He adds, however, that the building’s height raised some eyebrows. “We didn’t anticipate 54 stories,” he says. “We were thinking somewhere in the 40-story range. This will really provide a significant landmark to Downtown Oklahoma City.”

In terms of the headquarters spurring additional development in the central core, Beffort says that’s been happening for awhile. “We’re already doing a lot of things there. A significant number of residential units are being built for lease or for sale. There’s a significant amount of retail. We have a night life now in the Downtown,” he adds. “The city is spending significant amounts of money with what we call the ‘core-to-shore’ area.”

In other words, the Devon headquarters is more a confirmation of Oklahoma City as a viable metro rather than the start. “Building a new building of that type will add new credibility to Oklahoma City’s central core,” Beffort says.

Mark C. Snead, director of Oklahoma State University’s Center for Applied Economic Research in Stillwater, OK, agrees with Beffort, adding that the building may be somewhat behind the curve. “The reason Devon is staying there, and is building there, is because the past four years have witnessed explosive growth for the company, the city and the state,” he tells GlobeSt.com. “The building isn’t an early sign–it’s almost remarking on the obvious.”

Snead acknowledges that to those outside the state, a 1.9-million-sf world headquarters positions Oklahoma City as a full-blown metro rather than a victim of the oil bust or what he dubbed as the “perceived Midwest malaise that goes from the Texas border to the Canadian border.

“Larry Nichols [Devon's CEO] said he wanted to change the reputation of Oklahoma City and start pointing people to positive and vibrant parts of the area,” Snead says. “He nailed it with what this building will be a sign of.”

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