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In a few years, the nation’s tallest building may no longer be in New York or Chicago

The Legends Tower would rise 2,000 feet above Oklahoma City and put an exclamation point on the city’s skyline.

AO

In Oklahoma City, plans are underway to build a skyscraper that would dominate the city’s skyline and rise to twice the height of what is currently the tallest building in the state. But the developers are aiming for an even bigger superlative: the tallest building in the United States.

Groundbreaking for the overall mixed-use project is expected to begin this fall. Ultimately, it would include the Legends Tower, which rose to a height of 2,000 feet—a number chosen to commemorate the year Oklahoma became a state. And with a tall spire atop its roof, it can lift the crown of the nation’s tallest building from New York City’s One World Trade Center, which stands at 1.1776 feet.

“People have often asked me: what do you think of this development?” Councilwoman Nikki Nice said before a vote on the massive project this week. “I mean, the sky’s the limit, no pun intended.”

The project that would remake Oklahoma City is led by two California companies: real estate developer Matteson Capital and the architectural firm AO. The developers say they have raised more than $1 billion in financing for the project.

Here are more details about the ambitious plan:

How big is it?

Legends Tower would be more than twice as tall as the Devon Energy Center – which at 850 feet is currently the tallest building in Oklahoma City. It would have 126 levels above the development’s base podium, called the Boardwalk at Bricktown.

Plans submitted to the city show that the massive Legends building would have 86 levels of luxury residences (with an amenity level), with an additional 12 levels of luxury penthouse space. Above that would be a 16-story Hyatt hotel, along with nine more floors of Hyatt residences. Then there will be an indoor swimming pool, topped by two levels with an observation deck and a ‘sky restaurant’, according to the plans.

The Boardwalk at Bricktown would include a total of four towers: Legends, Dream, Emerald and Ruby. Developers also plan to create a 17,000-square-foot lagoon, along with restaurants and living spaces.

AO

The entire mixed-use project would span approximately 5 million square feet (including usable roof space and parking). Other amenities include a 17,000-square-foot lagoon surrounded by a boardwalk, along with several large rooftop terraces. The plans do not include office space.

What is the current status of the tower?

An important hurdle has been overcome this week. The Oklahoma City Council has lifted height restrictions on the parcel next to the railroad tracks in the center of the city, clearing the way for the Legends Tower.

Councilman James Cooper, the lone “no” on the nine-member vote, said he could not support the plan without further assurances that the developers will work on affordable housing and helping the homeless.

In a partnership with the city in late 2023, the developers said they planned to have 48 affordable housing units in the large project. In addition, it would include about 140 workforce housing units, intended for people earning less than the median income for the area.

The developers have made overtures to help alleviate the affordable housing crisis, Cooper said, but he added that a website highlighting those efforts appeared to be only one level deep, with links that didn’t work.

“There’s just nothing here that inspires any confidence in that effort,” Cooper said.

The entire project still needs other approvals to move forward, including from the city’s Planning Commission. Previously, the signs were a sticking point: Plans submitted last December included 1,000-foot-tall LED displays on all four sides of the building.

The towers in the Boardwalk at Bricktown development in Oklahoma City would rise above an entertainment space.

AO

What is the timing?

Legends Tower will stand between three much smaller towers: Dream, Emerald and Ruby. But the skyscraper would not be the first to be built.

The Brobdingnagian Tower would form part of phase 2 and become the centerpiece of the development following completion of the three other buildings.

“For the second phase, the hope would be to start in a few years, and it would probably take about three years to build the second phase of that project,” Rob Budetti of AO told the Oklahoma City Council this week.

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For the fourth tower, it would likely take “five years to come online,” he said.

What do the locals think?

Councilwoman Nice said at this week’s council meeting that she could not remember if residents opposed the project. But she added, “I know some people are a little nervous to see how this could be built.”

That summary appears to encompass the sentiments of people living and working in the Bricktown area who spoke with member station KOSU earlier this year.

“I feel like it’s some kind of PR stunt,” Shannon Burke, who lives a few blocks from the proposed skyscraper site, told the station. But, she noted, other large-scale projects have given the city’s downtown a big boost, such as the Oklahoma City Thunder Arena (which will soon be replaced under another ambitious plan).

“I think it would be a major eyesore,” Burke said of the Legends Tower. “But if it gets people talking and brings them to Oklahoma to see this crazy skyscraper, then it could help the economy.”

As KOSU notes, there are also questions about how a glass-enclosed supertall tower might fare during a tornado. In response, Budetti called it “essentially a mathematical problem,” saying the design should take into account the amount of force the tower must be able to withstand.

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