'The Nova' redevelopment coming to Automobile Alley

Published Thursday, May 20, 2021
by Staff Reports

Developers for The Nova, a mixed-use project in Automobile Alley, have submitted plans to the Downtown Design Review Committee to redevelop three total buildings with frontages on NW 6th and NW 7th Streets directly adjacent to the BNSF railroad tracks. The 66,000-square-foot plan will restore the historic Chevrolet Motor Company Building and adjacent structure to provide spacious downtown loft apartments, secure parking, retail space and a rooftop urban greenhouse. The team is comprised of developers Brandon Lodge, Jerry Roca and Patrick Myers, architect Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, Historic Consultant Rosin Preservation, Structural Engineer Wallace Engineering, Civil Engineer Johnson & Associates, Inc., MEP Engineer HP Engineering, Inc., and General Contractor CORD Construction Services, LLC.

"We are excited to share what we have been working on the last year and a half. Bringing the first full-service grocery concept to the urban core of OKC and integrating that with beautiful residences and an urban farm has been a daunting task. Fortunately, our team is as good as it gets, full of professionals who understand the scope of what we are trying to do, the reasons behind it, and who have the expertise to help us pull it off," said owner and development partner Brandon Lodge in a media release. "The support of the Alliance and the Chamber has been incredible and immensely helpful in bringing this project together. AHMM, indispensable as always.”

The south buildings are comprised of two structures. The Chevrolet Motor Company Building, located at 1 NW 6th Street, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was built in 1926. The 3-story industrial brick building is a contributing resource to the Automobile Alley Historic District. Chevrolet occupied this building until 1954. The Nova team is working with SHPO/NPS to obtain Historic Tax Credits to bring life back to this historically significant building.

“We see this project as a continuation of our previous work in Automobile Alley, stitching together both new and old buildings - as well as carefully designed outdoors spaces – to create meaningful places to live, work and play. We have worked closely with the State Historic Preservation Office to develop a strategy to rehabilitate the historic building while still creating a modern, intentional and meaningful place for the citizens of Oklahoma City,” said Wade Scaramucci, director with AHMM Architects, in a media release.

The ground floor of the south building is approximately 19,000 square feet of ‘white boxed’ future retail that is slated to become Urban Agrarian - a grocery, bar, eatery and bodega, while 20 generous for-lease apartments are built on levels 02 and 03. Level 02 west-facing apartments have generous walk-out balconies with views downtown.

“The partnership with Urban Agrarian is a critical piece of what we are trying to accomplish and what we are trying to say through our projects: namely, that our national food system is broken and the time to fix it is now. We are not food secure. We are vulnerable, and in large part our vulnerability lies in the centralization of our food production and distribution. COVID shined a spotlight on a problem that’s been lurking in the shadows for decades. Urban Agrarian and their mission to support and be a distribution hub for local farmers and producers is the exact business model to help us decentralize and close the loop in order to become more food secure community by community," said Lodge.

While the north building is outside the historic boundaries, it is still essential to the success of the development. New two-story retail space will be built to activate NE 7th street while the balance of the existing ground floor will be utilized for parking. Atop the existing north building will be a 10,000-square-foot urban greenhouse that will grow produce for distribution to local markets and restaurants.

“We think our glowing glass box will be beautiful at night. We will have a two-story bar that will be contained within the greenhouse structure - separate climates but with the rooftop farm and the city skyline beyond as the backdrop. We want to reconnect people to their food, reconnect urban to rural, cause people to wonder where their food comes from and ask why they should care - and we think we can have a lot of fun doing that,” said Patrick Myers, owner and development partner.

“A neighborhood market selling locally sourced products is one of my favorite memories of my childhood in Mexico. It is so important to know where our food comes from and to support the people who grow it for us. It is healthy for the body and good for the soul. I want to bring that to OKC. We were meant to be connected to, not removed from, nature. That connection to the land and people who feed us offers real wisdom we often miss out on in this culture," said Jerry Roca, owner and development partner.

Linking the north and south buildings is a hardworking external core which solves access and fire egress for both buildings and acts as front door for the apartments. The development is enhanced with landscaping and improved parking surfaces to support the future retail.

"This project is an exciting example of real mixed use – it is comprised of housing, retail, office as well as the Downtown's first urban agricultural farm," said Scaramucci.

The team anticipates completion by the fourth quarter of 2022.

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