The Gift of Gathering
Clark Building proprietor Bob Meinders cares for community, friends and family via penthouse parties
If you are fortunate enough to attend a soirée at the penthouse consuming the top two floors of the Clark Building at 16 NE 2 in Deep Deuce, you can’t miss the bright reds, purples and turquoise accents dotting the 6,700-square-foot, industrial residence.
You’ll admire the stunning artwork, vibrant paintings by Brent Learned and Joy Richardson, commissioned to complement the space. You will see panoramic views from the 360-degree rooftop deck.
What you may not notice is the 74-year-old, bearded elevator operator, dressed unpretentiously in jeans and perched on a stool at the elevator controls. Blending into the background – that’s Bob Meinders’ comfort zone.
Meinders doesn’t shy away from audacious projects. Prior to his purchase of the Clark Building, he bought the eight-acre W.H. Stewart Steel property east of Bricktown in 2005, which was transformed into retail and residential space now aptly named The Steelyard.
Nine years later, the Clark Building captured his imagination.
“I first toured this space with friends, and we all decided that night you’d have to be crazy to buy it,” he says with a grin. “And I’m just crazy enough.”
Meinders purchased the Clark Building in 2014 from Regina and Larry Waters. They had spent 10 years renovating the warehouse built in 1922, adding the rooftop level, installing a two-story glass chandelier and creating the most spectacular master bathroom with an enormous travertine tub. Meinders liked their aesthetic so much, he kept most of the couple’s work intact. He only added a few new touches by collaborating with designer Dee Harris.
“I just came in at the last minute, on the top layer, and my job was to make this feel like Bob’s place,” Harris says. That is quite the challenge when you’re working for someone who prefers to keep a low profile.
“I didn’t buy it for myself,” Meinders says. “I bought it for others to enjoy – organizations, family and friends.”
In fact, Meinders has only stayed overnight at his pied-a-terre once. His family stays there more than he does. Meinders relishes hosting his four siblings and extended family for holidays and milestone birthdays. The family even had a rooftop wedding here. In addition, the “Thunder Room,” filled with sports memorabilia procured at charity events, provides a lively setting for Thunder watch parties.
Meinders frequently donates the space at low or no cost to nonprofits he believes in. The two penthouse floors can hold up to 200 people. There is a 5,400-square-foot basement garage with elevator access, and the two large kitchens and butler’s pantry feature commercial appliances – a caterer’s dream. Allied Arts, deadCenter Film Festival, United Way, Palomar and many other organizations have hosted patrons here. The wild décor was the perfect backdrop for a live cheetah, as featured at the Cheetah Conservation Fund event.
Aside from the Meinders School of Business bench in the first-floor retail space and a few personal photos and awards scattered throughout the penthouse, Meinders’ ownership is really only evident through the art on the walls. Two Native American peace pipes are displayed from the Pipestone National Monument in Pipestone, Minnesota – Meinders’ beloved hometown of 26 years. The area means so much to him, he commissioned Brent Learned to create two paintings telling the “Legend of the Lakota Pipestone.”
“It makes it his place; it doesn’t look like a picture in a magazine,” Harris says. “Those pieces of art don’t hold personal meaning to anyone else except him.”
Harris also was tasked with bringing more comfort to a very industrial space. She painted the heavy black girders in the living room off-white to make it feel more residential. She coordinated the custom leather-studded doors to add privacy to the master suite. Building on unique design features already in the home, Harris also created a few unexpected elements, such as the double-headed bedside lamp in a guest room, custom made with various plumbing parts and the crafty assistance of Schuler Enterprises.
“There was a lot of research and development to make things look like they’d always been here,” Harris says. Such thoughtfulness only enhanced what the Waters had previously established. “To me, this home has everything anyone needs in a home: garage, storage, views and access to the surroundings. It is absolutely complete.”
Meinders manages the penthouse and a continuous schedule of events with the devoted assistance of his sister, Linda Drumm, and Austin Kelly, his “almost family” property manager. Kelly graduated from the same high school as Meinders, 45 years later. They met through Pipestone friends, an instant and meaningful connection.
“It’s an intriguing property, and it takes a lot of tender loving care. Austin is that tender loving care,” Meinders says with a laugh. “Most of the things I’ve gotten involved in have been crazy stuff like this, like meeting him. My best friend’s son is his best friend from high school – 700 miles from here. Small world.”
Many are so grateful Meinders is willing to open up his world, his dynamic Clark Building penthouse, albeit from behind the scenes.