Rand Elliott, left, talks with longtime friends Meg and Chris Salyer at Java Dave’s, 10 NE 10 in this 2005 photo. Oklahoman Archives
An update on Steve Mason’s work along Automobile Alley can be found in today’s business section. For those of you not familiar with Mason, his companies include Cardinal Engineering and Earl’s Rib Palace. Mason is also part of a wave of corporate relocations prompted by the expansion of the Chesapeake Energy campus at NW 63 and Classen. Instead of finding new digs out on Memorial Road, he bought some of Broadway’s most challenging buildings and committed himself to renovations that overwelmed prior owners.
He’s also had a bit of a setback – you can read about here.
Mason is trying to do something different by promoting retail in the ground floors of his buildings (several Automobile Alley owners have used their first floors for much needed parking). To provide ample parking, he’s bought empty lots across the street. Will this gamble pay off? And will other property owners take notice and possibly follow his example?
Automobile Alley doesn’t attract the same attention as Bricktown, but this district has an enviable mix that includes offices, a ballet conservatory, an art gallery, restaurants, an office supply store, two bike shops, banks and loft housing. Mason’s plans are targeted at giving retail more visibility on the strip.
Devery Youngblood, director of a then newly formed Automobile Alley, in 1996 when Broadway wasn’t looking too good. Oklahoman Archives
I still recall an Automobile Alley where weeds the size of pre-schoolers grew from cracks in the sidewalks. More buildings were empty, boarded up or dillapidated than not. Private and public investment that followed the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. Developers still invested in Automobile Alley – Nicholas Preftakes, Chris and Meg Salyer, Rand Elliott – dedicated themselves to bringing the strip back to life. I’ve even seen Meg Salyer, a respected civic leader and business executive, take the time to remove weeds from the sidewalk. Now this group can add Steve Mason to their ranks.