Big Changes For Big Blue

Big Changes For Big Blue

The iconic "Big Blue" building in downtown Wichita Falls will soon be vacant.

Tenants received a notice on Tuesday, saying they have until July 31st to move out.

Owner Rodd Womble said he was forced to make the decision when the building's three elevators stopped working about three weeks ago. "It's a dollar amount, a very large dollar amount, and at some point you have to say...'I'm in business to make a living.' I mean, it's an investment property," said Womble.

Womble said each elevator would cost $150,000 to replace. The price tag to fix them would be slightly less, but there is no guarantee they would pass the five-year inspection that is coming up.

"I'm just trying to get my tenants at this point taken care of," said Womble, calling them all "friends" and giving them more than the legal 30 days notice to move out. He said he also hand-delivered the notices so he could explain the decision.

Still, tenants are sad to leave the building they've called "home" for years.  

"The first memory I have in this building was at the end of World War II," said Barry Donnell, who has been in the building since 1938. "I was sitting out on the ledge when they had a parade and I was throwing confetti."

Donnell said he understands why Womble had to vacate Big Blue. "You just can't keep pouring good money into bad," said Donnell.

Womble said Industry Consulting Group, Inc. and Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas will be allowed to stay in the building, because they have separate air conditioning systems and they do not use the elevators since they are on the first floor.

A representative at American National Bank & Trust said the branch in the Big Blue building has not received a notice to move out. She did confirm their lease is through Womble, but said they will remain open at that downtown location for now.

Christina Myers