With OSU Institute of Technology students now calling the Grand Old Post Office Student Housing home, attention now turns to the other downtown property the university purchased three years ago.
OSUIT bought the Bell Building on the northeast corner of Morton Avenue and 6th Street in January of 2015 at the same time the university purchased the two-building complex now known as the GOPO Student Housing.
“We focused on the GOPO building; now it’s time to do something with the Bell Building,” said Jim Smith, vice president of Fiscal Services.
OSUIT is now accepting proposals from potential tenants on possible uses of the Bell Building, which is a little less than 15,000 square feet total and consists of a ground floor, second floor and basement.
“We’re not set on any particular type of business. It can be anything,” Smith said, but there is a stipulation. “We want it to have value to our students, staff and the larger Okmulgee community.”
The building is located on 6th Street, the main corridor of Okmulgee’s downtown, right across the street from the Creek Council House in the epicenter of Main Street activity known as the Square.
“We think it’s a great location. We want the building to be a showpiece,” he said. “We want people to be creative, we want them to dream. What could this building be? It could be anything and everything.”
Possibilities include entertainment venues, restaurants, shops or something no one has thought of yet, Smith said.
“We’re not in the restaurant or entertainment business; that’s not our expertise. That’s why we’re taking this approach. That’s why we want to bring in a partner,” he said. “It would be a public-private partnership."
Smith said potential tenants would likely have to invest in some renovation of the building, but depending on the tenant’s investment, OSUIT could forgo charging rent.
“We would entertain a zero-based rent to reduce the risk of the vendor,” he said. “We want them to invest in the building. We don’t want it to just sit there. We want something worthwhile for our students, staff and community.”
And while OSUIT doesn’t necessarily want to sell the building, Smith said they would entertain offers to buy as long as those proposals held to the ideal of offering a value or service to the university and the community.
“We’re not interested in something our students wouldn’t be interested in walking into,” he said. “I’m hoping this becomes the place to go in a college town. What that is, we don’t know yet.”
Proposals are due March 16 by 3 p.m. There will be two opportunities to view the facility, the first on Feb. 2 from 8 a.m. to noon and then again on Feb. 9 from noon to 4 p.m. To view the complete Request for Proposal or to submit a proposal, go to https://bids.okstate.edu.
All questions during the bid and evaluation process must be directed to Brandon Cook at 405-744-6657 or firstname.lastname@example.org.