Structural Problems Force Businesses Out of Oklahoma Building

February 9, 2009

Occupants, including an insurance company, are being asked to move out and the public is being barred from one of Norman, Okla.’s tallest building due to structural problems

The Financial Center, constructed in 1972, was closed on Feb. 6 after owners received a report that indicates “structural integrity concerns,” city spokeswoman Carol Coles said.

The Agar Ford, Jarmon and Muldrow insurance company is the building’s primary occupant on the third floor of the six-story building. The Vista Sports Grill occupies the building’s sixth floor.

Attorney Micheal Salem, whose offices are on the first floor, said building manager Jim Adair called in an engineering firm to evaluate the building about two weeks ago when he spotted some cracks in a wall.

KFC Engineering advised that the building should not be occupied until repairs are made, Coles said.

“The city’s primary concern is the health and safety of the public and those who use or occupy the building,” city planner Patrick Copeland said.

Everyone has been asked to voluntarily vacate the premises by today, Feb 9. The engineering firm’s analysis remains under evaluation to see if a mandatory evacuation is necessary, Copeland said.

“At this stage, unless additional information is provided to indicate otherwise, it is anticipated the building will be closed to the public voluntarily by the owners or with assistance by the city this weekend. It is unfortunate, but we feel it is the prudent thing to do,” he said.

Copeland said a preliminary analysis indicates the east wall has moved “or pulled away” from the building by about 5 or 6 inches in places.

Adair declined to comment on the situation. A manager at the Vista Sports Grill also declined comment.

“I think he (Adair) has acted responsibly in this matter. As soon as he saw there might be a problem, he called in engineers to look at it,” Salem said.

Information from: The Oklahoman, and the Norman Transcript,

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