As $70 million renovation project begins, Oklahoma lawmaker says additional buildings need upgrades

By: - October 24, 2023 5:29 am

Rep. Mark McBride speaks to attendees at the Jim Thorpe Office Building during a kickoff event to begin renovations as Brandy Wreath looks on. The project is funded by a $70 million bond. (Photo by Mindy Ragan Wood/Oklahoma Voice)

An Oklahoma lawmaker on Monday said he’ll advocate next year for additional funding to renovate more neglected and aging state buildings.

Rep. Mark McBride, R-Moore, made the remarks during a ceremony kicking off extensive renovations to the 85-year-old Jim Thorpe Office Building. He said he plans to focus his attention next year on upgrading additional state and university buildings that have fallen into disrepair.

McBride, who authored the bill in 2022 that funded the $70 million Jim Thorpe project, said it’s important to maintain state buildings. Delays push renovation costs higher.

“We need to stop waiting 50 to 100 years before we address these problems,” he said.

People gather inside the Jim Thorpe Building for a look at the 1938 structure before renovations begin in the lobby. (Photo by Mindy Ragan Wood/Oklahoma Voice)

The building, constructed in 1938 and later named after Native American Olympic athlete Jim Thorpe will see updates to plumbing, windows, and HVAC. Upgrades will also bring the building into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and modern building codes.

The multi-year project is scheduled to be completed by June 30, 2026.

Nathan Wald, Office of Enterprise and Management Services capital assets administrator, said the project is an exciting opportunity to invest in the future.

“The goal was to take what’s here and keep its historic value and preserve that, but bring it up to be a modern workplace,” Wald said. “We’ll bring this up to a functional facility so we can work and be effective for the taxpayers of Oklahoma.”

The building primarily housed the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, but the agency has moved temporarily to the Will Rogers Building, 2401 N. Lincoln Blvd. Renovations will also include relocating the agency’s court rooms on the first floor to make it more accessible to the public.


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Mindy Ragan Wood
Mindy Ragan Wood

Mindy covers the legislature for Oklahoma Voice. Her areas of focus include infrastructure, municipal government policies, and human services with an emphasis on the needs of intellectually vulnerable and physically challenged adults.