Transition to Condos
The Center Plaza Apartments enjoyed early success but after twenty-five years of neglect and disinvestment, the project lost its luster and no longer enjoyed a favorable reputation. It was ripe for redevelopment and in 1995 and 1996 a Florida real estate development company purchased the property and converted it to condominiums under the name CRESCENT HEIGHTS OF OKLAHOMA, INC, a real estate company with headquarters in Miami.
The company had a national background in condominium conversions and was at the forefront of the conversion boom in Miami Beach in the 1980s. Believing Tulsa was a “micro-version of Miami” on the verge of a great downtown revival, they invested over $8 million on the remodeling of lobbies for a “more cosmopolitan feel” and other public areas, including new lighted tennis and basketball courts, outdoor swimming pool, jogging path, landscaping and parking.
Initial prices were modest, even by 1998 standards: $19,900 to $32,900 for studios with an average of 500 square feet; $35,900 to $46,200 for a one-bedroom, one-bath with 720 square feet; $51,400 to $71,900 for a two-bedroom, two bath with 1,100 square feet and two-story townhouses that ranged upward of there.
The twin 20-story towers comprised 397 units between them and offered a variety of floor plans and views of the Tulsa skyline. An aggressive marketing program began amongst a great deal of media hype and hoopla. Real estate agents attended numerous “brokers open” showcasing professionally decorated and furnished models and hosting lavish buffets and slick high-gloss marketing materials.
Attendees always seemed impressed at what they saw – the chic urban feel, fantastic views and amenities, but sales were slow, very slow. According to reports, only about 15 percent of the existing rental units converted to condominiums. After about 18 months it became clear that the anticipated demand had been grossly exaggerated and based upon faulty data. There was no real demand for downtown condominiums at that time, as downtown was virtually deserted after dark.