The Chickasaw Nation has made a commitment to do its part for the beautification of Ardmore with a resolution to take down the Chickasaw Towers.
Nation legislators recently passed a resolution calling for the demolition and removal of the towers. The towers were built in 1973 and helped meet the need for low-income housing for almost 40 years.
“It is in the best interest of all to remove the building,” says Wayne Scribner, secretary of the Chickasaw Nation Department of Community Services. “While this building helped meet low-income housing needs for almost four decades, it has outlived its useful life.”
The Chickasaw Towers held tenants until 2009. At the time, Scribner said there were a number of factors which led to the closing, including the age of the heat and air systems. Structural issues were also a concern. At the time the Nation closed the towers, only 45 of the 97 housing units were occupied, as the top floors were closed because of damage. Renovation expenses were seen as costly at the time.
Since the towers closed, the Chickasaw Nation explored different possibilities for the property, but failed to accomplish much headway.
“There really wasn’t a good candidate,” says David Woerz, Chickasaw legislator, Pickens District. “Actually, we had looked to someone to turn it into an office complex, and it fell through. Because of the state it is in, it was determined it was just not feasible to keep it any longer because of safety issues.
“The building has gotten to where it is not feasible to operate. It is an empty building that can attract crime and be dangerous. We wanted to be sure we didn’t leave the building there for that reason. We thought it would be in the best interest of the city of Ardmore and the Chickasaw Nation to raze the building.”
Woerz also says the Nation has moved in a different direction in terms of housing for its citizens that the towers did not meet.
“In this day and age, the way we do our housing is we build individual homes,” he says. “Our citizens are proud of their individual homes and take care of them. There is pride in individual home ownership.”
Woerz also says there are no current plans for the property, as the focus is on the demolition of the building. Tony Choate, Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office director, says a date has not been set for the demolition and removal of the building.
Ardmore City Manager J.D. Spohn expressed optimism a use could be found for the property leading into the downtown district.
“I don’t know a whole lot of the details, but I am sure if they are bringing it down, they have a good reason,” Spohn says. “I think it served a vital role in the past, and hopefully it will be replaced with something beneficial to the community.”