They want to build the tallest skyscraper in an unusual city in America

(CNN) — A group of developers wants to build the tallest building in the United States in an unusual place: Oklahoma City.

The proposed location for the 581 meter high “Legends Tower” is certainly unconventional. This skyscraper will be twice the height of the tallest building in Oklahoma City and will be the fifth tallest building in the world.

The 10 tallest buildings in the United States are in New York and Chicago, the country’s first and third largest cities, respectively. Oklahoma City is the twentieth-largest city in the United States, with approximately 700,000 residents.

Developers say Oklahoma City is expanding and say the city can support such a project. It increased by about 2% between 2020 and 2022. Between 2010 and 2020, Oklahoma City was one of 14 U.S. cities whose population exceeded 100,000.

The scheme supports the growing city. But this proposal may fail from the start. The mayor of Oklahoma City is silent on the plan, and a city economist has called the skyscraper “a dream in the sky.”

Developers led by real estate investment firm Matteson Capital and architecture firm AO announced their plans this week to build a skyscraper in Oklahoma City as part of a new mixed-use development project in the downtown featuring shops, restaurants and other attractions.

Another reason for the project to surprise: The work-from-home revolution since the pandemic has weakened demand for office space. There are more vacant offices in the US than at any time since 1979. Many of the tallest buildings in the United States, such as the 1,800-foot-tall One World Trade Center in New York and Chicago’s Willis Tower, 527 meters tall, are office buildings.

So instead of offices, the proposed Oklahoma City tower would include a Hyatt hotel with hundreds of rooms, about 1,750 apartments and 10,220 square feet of retail and restaurants.

The “Legends Tower” will be part of a new development project. (Courtesy of AO)

In Bricktown, the district where the skyscraper is planned to be built, developers say there is demand because of new sports and entertainment options. Voters recently approved the construction of a new stadium for the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder in the area, and construction of a new soccer stadium is being planned.

Scott Matteson, CEO of Matteson Capital, speaking to CNN, said, “Oklahoma City is committed to growing as a major metropolitan area. The city has invested in the infrastructure around the project.”

Difficult sale for investors

Developers need approval from Oklahoma City to build the tower.

Asked if he supported the tower, Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt said in a statement emailed to CNN: “In my view, private developers often announce plans and few of those plans are implemented. go, and others don’t. I don’t have any strong opinions and I look forward to following their efforts.

The biggest hurdle may be financing a skyscraper, according to Stephen Al, architect and author of “Supertall: How the World’s Tallest Buildings Are Reshaping Our Cities and Our Lives.”

“I’m not sure it’s worth the additional cost of construction,” he said. The taller a skyscraper is, the more expensive it is due to the structures added to support the building.

“Is there a market to pay that expense?” Al said, adding that it would be “a tough sell for investors”.

According to Matteson, the entire project is estimated to cost $1.6 billion, including $770 million for the tower. He said funding for the project will come from multiple sources, including a $200 million grant approved by the city. The company is also seeking additional state and federal funding.

But the tower would be a “phenomenal outlier” in Oklahoma City, said Jason Barr, an economics professor at Rutgers University-Newark, who studies the economics of skyscrapers and is the author of “Cities in the Sky: The Quest for the World’s Tallest Skyscrapers.” Is the author of. ,

According to him, the height of the city’s tallest building is closely related to the second-tallest building, and the tower proposed for Oklahoma City would be more than twice as tall as the city’s current tallest building, the Devon Energy Center offices.

A city’s population is also an important indicator of how tall its tallest building will be.

Big cities like New York can have taller buildings because there are more residents and more businesses. But Barr felt the Oklahoma Tower was “too tall for the city’s population.” The population of New York is approximately 12 times that of Oklahoma City, and that of Chicago is four times that of Chicago.

“The smaller the city, the more difficult it will be to fill that extra space at a price that makes it worthwhile.”

Oklahoma City University economist Steve Edge said the idea is “a pipe dream”, especially since interest rates are hovering around 23-year highs, which would make financing the building difficult.

“I don’t think the economy will go in their favor,” he said. “I can’t imagine Oklahoma City being ready for that kind of building.”

CNN’s Andy Rose contributed to this article.

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