Kress

 

I suppose I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t at least weigh in on the Kress facade issue.

The facade was initially going to be safe.  At least that’s what we were told and what the City Council was told and voted on at the time.  But yesterday, after hearing varying reports of the cost to save the facade, the current council nullified the previous commission’s decision and voted to demolish the facade.  The idea now is to save a few things and have the hotel developer incorporate it somehow.

 

I WAS AGAINST IT

I’ve had a range of emotions on this.  At first, when I heard about the fact that they were thinking of taking a wrecking ball to it, I was indifferent.  I only remember the store as a Dollar General.  Now, I do remember the wooden floors and all that.  Either way was fine with me.  In fact, I remember seeing the drawings of the concept and thinking….”man that looks out of place.”  I was completely against having an odd looking hotel downtown just because of that building.

 

I WAS FOR IT

Then, after remembering that we were told THEY WOULD save it, I felt that promises should be kept.  They promised an old tyme Kress facade on that corner would stay and that’s how it should have been.  Many of our citizen’s have fond memories of the building.  How many promises have we heard over the years only see them fulfilled?

 

I WAS AGAINST IT

However, after hearing that the cost of saving the facade could reach the $500,000+ mark I was taken aback.  And let’s be honest, if the City of Enid said it was $500K, it would probably end up being $750K+.  There is no way that kind of taxpayer money should be used to save something that does not even exist anymore.  It was a 5 and dime that closed many, many years ago.  I understand the arguments of the architecture and stuff like that, I really do.  But, like a lot of things, perhaps if maintenance had been done on it over the years (even before it was just a facade), it might have lasted longer.  And that’s the thing.  Buildings do not last forever, no matter how much we want them to last.  They are made of brick, not marble or stone.  Further, just being an old building does not make it historic.  Now, many of the Kress Buildings that have been taken care of over the years have been declared historic sites.

However, the one thing that kept coming into my mind, was Garfield Elementary.  Before it’s pointed out to me, I know EPS and the City are not the same entity.  But Garfield was a school that was built (probably) around the same time.  It served thousands of kids over the years.  The columns outside were amazingly grand.  Even as a student going there, I marveled at them.  Where were the cries to save Garfield?  Where was the 100 post long Facebook statuses that debated the merits of saving it or re-purposing it into something else?  Nowhere.  I did post something before demolition started questioning why they were not trying to save the columns.  But it fell on deaf ears.  Nobody cared about that crappy school on East Broadway.

And back to the 500K for a minute.  Do you know what the City could do with 500K?  That’s a couple of parks.  Some trail work.  Road repairs.  Now, obviously this money did not have to be spent, so it is not money that is actually going to go to build 2 parks instead, but you get my point.  Heck, they could have bought the second largest hangar at Woodring Airport and rented it out, helped shore up our relationship with the Air Force, or helped lure an industry.  AND they would have had money left over.

So, in the end, while I partially wanted it saved for a lot of people who felt passionately about it, wanted it for the Commissioners that worked hard to try to save it (I’m looking at you Ben and Tammy), in the end it was something I think I only half wanted, but also was not going to be overly upset if it got the wrecking ball.  Almost relieved if it didn’t happen.  Now, I hope they take everything off the facade they can that can possibly be used and find a way to properly memorialize the building.

And let’s remember and keep it in perspective, Kress died a long time ago.  And it hurts nothing, to have a modern downtown.

-Mark