Downtown Lawton is losing one of its oldest structures.
City of Lawton officials said demolition will begin next week on the former police station at Southwest 4th Street and West Gore Boulevard. That’s almost two years after the building was abandoned to move the police department and city jail into the new Lawton Public Safety Center on Railroad Street. Demolition had been slated to begin earlier this spring after utilities were cut and plugged, but city officials agreed to delay that work until the conclusion of last weekend’s Arts for All Festival, City Engineer Joseph Painter said.
Some preliminary work is being done this week, as contractors clean out the inside of the building. K&M Dirt Services LLC (K&M Wrecking), which was awarded a $289,681 contract to handle the project, will begin removing the building next week. Work is expected to take 90 days.
Painter said the project will mean clearing the building that is visible above ground, but contractors also will knock holes in the walls of the basement so that area won’t hold water, then fill it with select soil. He said that process is less expensive than complete removal of the basement; engineers had estimated the project cost would increase to $400,000 to $500,000 if complete removal of the basement was required.
Once the site is cleared, it will be re-sodded and left as a grassy lot until city officials decide what they want to do with the site. Proposals have included a parking lot, or using the site as Lawton’s first indoor mass transit transfer center.
The police station was built in 1964 as part of Lawton’s downtown urban renewal efforts, and at one time contained the city police station, municipal court, emergency communications center and city jail. When the facility closed in 2021, it was home to Lawton Police Department, with the city jail occupying the top floor.
City officials investigated potential uses for the deteriorating building, but engineers have said in recent years that the structure was too badly damaged for repairs and reuse to be economically feasible. Among other problems, the building contained asbestos and also was plagued by mold caused by sewer leaks from the jail floor that leaked all the way into the basement area. In addition, a fire in July 2021 further damaged the building.