OKLAHOMA CITY – Developers of a $ 65 million, 326-unit luxury apartment complex destroyed by fire Feb. 8 are eager for building to resume at the northwest Oklahoma City site but aren’t sure what the new development might look like.
“We’re still excited about future development at that site,” Blair Humphreys, CEO of Humphreys Capital, said Wednesday. “We want to see something great happen there.”
The development partners – led by Humphreys Capital and Houston-based Hines – said they hope to proceed soon but don’t have all the information needed to assess the next step. The five-alarm fire created a series of legal, insurance and other evaluations and determinations that must be resolved before any decisions are made, they said.
Oklahoma City Fire Department investigators are coordinating with multiple insurance companies and other interested parties, including the general contractor and local utility providers.
The fire started on the roof of the five-story complex under construction at 6161 N. Western Ave. and brought more than 80 firefighters to the scene. Battalion Chief Benny Fulkerson said it was the largest fire the department had responded to in anyone’s memory.
Early on, department officials said the investigation into the cause of the fire could take weeks. The chief over the investigation said last week they would try their best to complete the investigation by the end of the month.
Large piles of debris remain at the site. Humphreys said they have cleared away as much as possible, but some materials must remain because they are part of the fire investigation.
“We are as eager as everyone else to learn the cause of the fire,” he said.
Project representatives said they refuted multiple conspiracy theories, pointing out the building featured a standard commercial roofing system, and the project was on track to outperform financial projections.
Humphreys said a lot has changed in the world of real estate since work began in 2019 on the project known as The Canton at Classen Curve, but the location continues to be “the best multifamily site available in Oklahoma City.”
The property is adjacent to Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and the retail shops and restaurants at the Classen Curve and Nichols Hills Plaza. It also has easy access to multiple employers and to downtown, he said.
There continues to be a growing demand for apartments and housing of all types, Humphrey said. Travis Mason, a broker at Cushman & Wakefield, said the supply of new multifamily units within the urban core remains below market needs, partly as a result of pandemic and increased construction costs.
When the fire occurred, The Canton was just weeks away from receiving a certificate of occupancy for the first phase, which would have allowed the finalization of leases and residents to begin moving in.
“It’s now for the residents we were never able to welcome and disappointing for so many who worked for so long to not come to fruition,” Humphreys said. “Our company has managed real estate investments for more than 50 years over three generations, but this is our first time to encounter a disaster of this magnitude.
“The truly good news is as far as we know no one was hurt and we still have an opportunity to restore that site.”
The nearby Ellison Hotel and its restaurant, Milo, had to close just months after opening due to severe smoke damaged from the fire. The website says the boutique hotel and restaurant at 6201 N. Western Ave. will reopen May 2, and Ellison Rooftop Bar will open for the season May 5.