A 70-year-old derelict building along the Bricktown Canal, empty since 2002, is set to undergo a $10 million transformation into an event center and sandwich shop.
The Falls Event Center LLC started in Utah five years ago and has since grown to eight locations with Bricktown being one of several new locations being planned. John Neubauer, corporate general manager with Falls Event Centers, said the company has a purchase contract for 108 E California Ave. and construction could start by next summer pending approval by the Bricktown Urban Design Committee.
Plans call for addition of a third floor and a waterfall that will flow at the building's canal level. The east-facing wall that adjoins the Brickopolis miniature golf course would be redone with a new brick facade and window openings.
“We're an event center, but we're a venue only,” Neubauer said. “It's for businesses, nonprofits and families seeking places to do events. Guests do their own catering, alcohol and event planning. Our niche is we provide a country club environment for a ‘Target' price.”
The development also will include an “Even Stevens” sandwich shop, which along with the Falls Event Centers was started by Utah entrepreneur Steve Down. The shops, started in 2014, donate sandwiches to a local nonprofit that feeds the hungry. As of July, the chain gave away 500,000 sandwiches.
The two-story building originally was home to a paper company, but was empty for several years before it was briefly leased to a nightclub after the opening of the canal in 1999.
The first presentation of the project will be at the Dec. 14 Bricktown Urban Design Committee meeting, with an application for plan approval in January. Neubauer said discussions have been ongoing with the city's parks department about adding the waterfall and with Mallory O'Neill, Bricktown Association program manager, about ensuring the venue is a good fit with the district.
“We want to rebrick the side wall — it's such an ugly view for people who come into the area,” Neubauer said. “We will put some really nice artwork on the wall in coordination with Mallory and the Bricktown Association.”
Because the event center allows customers to choose their own catering, Neubauer expects the venue will benefit Bricktown area restaurants.
O'Neill is excited to see the project come to fruition.
“This event space and restaurant concept is the perfect addition to the canal,” O'Neill said. “Seeing this building active and thriving is the end goal for the district and we are confident that The Falls will do so. They have already proven how invested in the community they will be. We are very excited to have them call Bricktown home.”