A gleaming new building adjacent to ONEOK Field has brought a different type of retail and commercial space to downtown Tulsa.
The officers of Vast Bank wanted “to do something for the city and, at the same time, get ourselves a new headquarters,” says Doug DeJarnette, a senior vice president and the director of commercial and private banking with Vast.
The six-story, 100,000-square-foot building, straddling the Arts and Greenwood districts, will house restaurants, offices and Vast’s corporate seat and newest branch. One of the building’s designers describes its style as “rustic modern.”
“They really wanted the project and the building to be progressive, but appropriate and respectful to the historical context of downtown Tulsa,” says Kate Cofer, part of the KKT architectural team carrying out the vision of the Biolchini family, which owns the bank.
“I’m excited for our family, I’m excited for our bank, and I’m also excited for Tulsa,” says Tom Biolchini, chairman of the board. “We decided to build right next to the baseball stadium because we wanted a highly visible location that says we are not going anywhere. It’s a bank that’s owned by Tulsans.”
Biolchini says his family also chose the Elgin Avenue location, once a long-vacant lot, because Tulsa was “doing a lot of great things in the Arts District and the Greenwood District. We see this as a big deal … to propel our downtown.”
Founded in 1982, the bank was known until this year as Valley National Bank, which has several locations in Northeastern Oklahoma.
“A few years ago, we set out on a journey to find a new name – modern and progressive – and arrived at Vast,” says DeJarnette, adding that its new building will open in phases.
BKD, a regional accounting firm, was scheduled for a November move-in. The bank is to follow this month, along with family office DeKraai and Associates and Casillas Petroleum, which will occupy two floors in January.
Many Tulsans and visitors will find the bottom and top floors appealing.
On the ground floor, Brian Sachse brings his Hummingbird Coffee + Beer. Chicago chef Fabio Viviani, with local partner Jonathon Stranger, will open the second branch of the Oklahoma City-based Italian restaurant Osteria. The French Hen, celebrating its 40th anniversary, moves from its longtime south Tulsa location.
In addition, Orth Contemporary offers rotating art exhibits, along with a permanent exhibit that pays homage to the Greenwood District and Black Wall Street.
“We acknowledge the race massacres in our building,” Biolchini says. “Tulsa will be a better place when we heal our city and become more diverse.”
Meanwhile, the bank’s lobby “is very classy,” Cofer says. “It is white with rustic wood. We wanted the lobby to feel open, a place where people can hang out with their clients.
“The building design reminds me of Portland [Oregon] and of Chicago, but it still looks like it fits perfectly into Tulsa. It is urban but timeless and fits into the bank’s mission and motto.”
On the sixth floor, fresh sushi will be made and served at Vū, a new In the Raw restaurant. (Visitors can also grab sushi to go at street level at In the Raw GoGo.)
The Rendezvous Room will be a rooftop event space and terrace with a view of OneOK Field. A celebratory grand opening is planned for April 9, the first day of Tulsa Drillers baseball.
A half-block to the south is the project’s parking garage with 390 public spaces. Cofer, who grew up in Tulsa but worked awhile in Chicago, says it’s typical for Windy City parking garages to have ground-level retail sites.
Fittingly, the garage will house the F45 fitness center and the Skyline Animal Hospital, where “downtown dwellers and workers can drop their best friend off for a groom or services while they are at the office,” DeJarnette says.
The project is a collaboration of lifelong friends, says DeJarnette, who has known Biolchini since they were kindergarten classmates.
“We reached out to clients, to people we do business with, to have a new option for restaurants and mixed-use in downtown Tulsa,” DeJarnette says. “We wanted something to attract new college graduates. We will have live music during the First Friday art crawls.”
Biolchini says he joined the family banking business in 2008 after practicing law for several years.
“Tulsa was the primary driving factor for me coming back,” he says. “My dream was always to … work in Tulsa in some form or fashion.”
Cofer says the $40 million project, launched in late 2016, has “been really exciting to work on – that caliber of a project here in Tulsa, to see it influence the skyline and influence other projects in downtown Tulsa.”
The Ross Group was the contractor for the core and shell of the building, while High Gate was the contractor for the Vast Bank floor. Other tenants had their own architects and contractors for different interior spaces.
“Everybody we have talked to is really excited about it,” Biolchini says. “I have had random people coming up and asking me when it’s going to open.”