The constructing as soon as the location for The Bryant Heart — a hub for Oklahoma Metropolis’s most outstanding Black group — is now not what it as soon as was.
After sitting dilapidated for a few years, its proprietor is pushing for the constructing at 2633 NE 21 to be granted historic significance and preserved from demolition, however the metropolis council is giving it two months to be introduced as much as code.
As soon as housing a bowling alley, a restaurant and a eating membership at its peak, what was previously often known as The Bryant Leisure Heart has fallen right into a state of disuse for the reason that Nineteen Eighties. It’s shifted via completely different possession within the a few years since its heyday, together with the YMCA.
Dr. Robert Phillips stated he’s owned the constructing since 1991.
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“It was one of the crucial necessary venues for the Black group,” stated Phillips, a retired dentist who’s been working to safe the constructing by erecting obstacles round it.
Through the years, regardless of Phillips’ greatest efforts, the previous leisure heart has been a grounds for trash dumping, graffiti competitions and homeless encampments. Mike Chapple, Phillips’ nephew and vice chairman of gaming operations at Remington Park Racing & On line casino, stated he’s personally needed to chase a number of youths away who had been trying to vandalize the constructing.
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“The last word aim is to protect the constructing for the advantage of the group,” Chapple stated. “That was at all times my uncle’s intention. And everybody tells us that nobody desires to see it go, however there’s been no funding, both.”
Phillips and Chapple made their case Tuesday morning in entrance of the Oklahoma Metropolis Council, which unanimously voted to defer additional motion on the constructing till March 1, giving two extra months for added enhancements to be made.
”I’ve talked with Dr. Phillips for just a few years and he’s been attempting to determine what must occur to revive that constructing since he bought it,” Ward 7 Councilwoman Nikki Good stated. “However I know even with him, his well being failing, the a number of problems with dumping repeatedly in his house, and simply with COVID, it’s been tough for him to have the ability to do the rapid issues that in all probability must be taken care of.”
Chapple stated the assembly he and Phillips had with the town council on Tuesday was in all probability essentially the most promising signal he’s seen in years.
“(Tuesday) was the primary day — and I’ve been in entrance of that council group many instances — the primary day that I’ve heard the town supervisor say he would test with OG&E and so they’ll see about getting lighting,” Chapple stated. “It’s by no means even been talked about earlier than.”
Good additionally stated she remembers her mom attending reveals on the previous Bryant Heart constructing.
“I personally have seen a few flyers or posters from again within the day the place I imagine it was one of many locations the place Ike and Tina (Turner) have carried out,” Good stated. “So it is a house that, sure, has been very significant to the Black group, as a result of that’s the place we had our Black performers to return, was to the Bryant Heart, in order that they may very well be part of our group.”
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Chapple stated latest years and conversations with Good have confirmed encouraging, because the concerned events attempt to come to settlement on how greatest to maneuver ahead with the constructing.
”(Phillips) simply doesn’t need to be within the place the place he’s pressured to need to demolish the constructing, or they demolish the constructing, or they put it on a lien,” Chapple stated.
Michael Schwarz, head of AbandonedOK.com, has raised consciousness concerning the situation of the constructing in latest columns.
“The Bryant Heart was a enjoyable place to go on a Friday, Saturday night time,” Schwarz stated. “That they had bowling leagues there within the ‘60s and additional, and so they had dance golf equipment all the time.”
Schwarz stated he’s visited a number of instances up to now 10 years and now considers it “an empty shell.”
”Every part’s stripped out,” Schwarz stated. “There have been nonetheless remnants of the bowling alley once I first went, and even a part of the dance flooring was nonetheless there. A soda machine was nonetheless there. There have been bowling pins in all places. It was a extremely cool place to go, and the final time I used to be in there, it simply seemed prefer it had been overrun by varied homeless exercise.”
Schwarz stated he’s hopeful that it could actually bounce again, however the constructing would want a big overhaul.
”There’s going to need to be a brand new roof added, however the brick partitions are in fairly stable situation,” Schwarz stated. “In the event you’re speaking simply primary bones and construction, then, sure, completely, you simply clear out the inside and it may be salvaged. But it surely’s on a really skinny thread if nothing is finished quickly. If it continues to take a seat the way in which it’s, it gained’t be lengthy earlier than partitions begin falling down.”
Chapple is conscious of the most important funding that must be made to revive the constructing, and stated he has considered different methods to put it aside if historic preservation standing will not be granted.
“I’ve met with Caylee Dodson, who’s with RestoreOKC, and pitched it to them if they might be concerned with at the least using the lot as an annex to develop their backyard’s produce,” Chapple stated.
Phillips stated his dream was to maintain the previous Bryant Heart constructing alive as a means of giving again to the group, and Chapple stated he’s practically persuaded his uncle to maneuver ahead with the RestoreOKC collaboration. In the end, Chapple stated, he desires to honor the needs of his uncle and protect the historical past of the group that after made the venue so well-liked.
”So long as there’s breath on this household, they are going to personal the dust,” Chapple stated. “Regardless of the case could also be with the town and attempting to get the constructing torn down, that will be very unlucky, however it will by no means promote, if I’ve one thing to do with it.”