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USA. The tallest skyscraper in the US would be built in Oklahoma. Experts’ doubts

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A group of developers plans to build the tallest building in the USA in a rather unusual place. Not in Manhattan or in the middle of any other large city, but in the city of Oklahoma, which is not famous for its skyscrapers and, according to the plans, far from those that are already standing.

As CNN notes, the proposed location of the 500-meter “Tower of Legends” is certainly unconventional. The skyscraper would be more than twice the height of the current tallest building in Oklahoma and, if built, would be the fifth tallest building in the world.

The 10 tallest buildings in the United States are located in New York and Chicago, the country’s first and third largest cities, respectively. Oklahoma is the 20th largest city in America, with a population of approximately 700,000.

Developers note that Oklahoma is growing and say the city can support such a project. In the years 2020–2022, it increased by almost 2%. Between 2010 and 2020, Oklahoma City was one of 14 U.S. cities whose population increased by more than 100,000 people.

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The investment plan would support the developing city. However, as CNN notes, the proposal may be doomed to failure. Oklahoma’s mayor is not involved in the plan, and one city economist described the skyscraper as “pears on a willow.”

Developers, led by investment firm Matteson Capital and architecture firm AO, announced plans this week to build a skyscraper in Oklahoma as part of a new mixed-use development project with retail shops, restaurants and other attractions.

People are running away from offices

The investment is also surprising for another reason. After the pandemic, the working style of many companies has changed dramatically and they now allow working from home to a greater extent. This weakened demand for office space. There is now more vacant office space in the United States than at any time since 1979. Many of the tallest buildings in America, such as the 576-meter One World Trade Center in New York and the 570-meter Willis Tower in Chicago, are office buildings.

So instead of offices, the proposed Oklahoma tower would feature a Hyatt hotel with hundreds of rooms, about 1,750 suites and 110,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space.

Developers say there is demand in Bricktown – a neighborhood where a massive development project and high-rise building is planned – for new sports and entertainment opportunities. Voters recently approved construction of a new arena for the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder in the area, and plans for a new soccer stadium are underway.

– Oklahoma City wants to grow as a major metropolitan area. The city has invested in the infrastructure surrounding the project, Scot Matteson, CEO of Matteson Capital, said in a statement to CNN.

Skyscraper to be built in Oklahoma called “Boardwalk at Bricktown”AO

The consent of the city authorities is required

Developers must obtain consent from the city authorities to build the tower. Asked if he supported building the tower, Oklahoma Mayor David Holt said in a statement emailed to CNN: “In my observation, private developers often announce plans and some of them get implemented and others don’t. I don’t have a strong opinion and I look forward to following their efforts.”

A bigger barrier may be financing a skyscraper, said Stefan Al, an architect and author of “Supertall: How the World’s Tallest Buildings Are Reshaping Our Cities and Our Lives.”

“I’m not sure it’s worth the extra construction costs,” he said. The taller a skyscraper is, the more expensive it becomes due to the additional structures supporting the building. – Is there a market that will cover this expense? – Al asks rhetorically and states that this may be a difficult project to sell to investors.

High costs of building a skyscraper and questions about the sense of the project

The cost of the entire development project is estimated at $1.6 billion, including $770 million for the tower, Matteson said. He added that funding for the project will come from multiple sources, including $200 million in city-approved grants. The company is also seeking additional state and federal funding.

At the same time, according to Jason Barr, an economics professor at Rutgers University-Newark who studies the economics of skyscrapers (and is the author of the book “Cities in the Sky: The Quest for the World’s Tallest Skyscrapers”), notes that the building “would lag behind unprecedentedly.” He noted that a city’s population is a strong indicator of the height of its tallest building, and pointed out to CNN that large cities like New York can have taller buildings because they have more people and more businesses. But the Oklahoma tower seems to Barr “far too tall considering the city’s population.” New York’s population is about 12 times greater than Oklahoma’s, and Chicago’s population is four times greater.

Steve Agee, an economist at Oklahoma City University, said the idea was “pears on willow,” especially since interest rates remain at their highest level for 23 years, which would make it difficult to finance the building. “I don’t see the economics working in their favor,” he said. “It’s beyond my comprehension that Oklahoma is ready for a building like this,” he said.

Main photo source: AO, Shutterstock

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