Bricktown on a nice summer evening, 2007 – and not a cold, cold day like February 12, 2008. Oklahoman Archives
More thoughts about Bricktown versus West End coming your way from local architect Dennis Wells:
“As a young architect my firm was literally the first tenant of the West End (excepting Spaghetti Warehouse) and we were the architects that Blackland Properties used to spearhead development of the district. We witnessed the transformation from bumland to wonderland, often questioning the sanity of our client’s program. Even though architects are supposed to be visionaries, the degree of success surprised us. I wasn’t in Dallas during the decline and fall of the district, so the demise also surprised me.
In OKC I witnessed the rise of Bricktown from a different vantage point, and even with my first-hand experience in the blossoming of the West End I was somewhat skeptical that a similar blossoming would happen here. I thought the canal idea was too counterfeit and would be an embarrassing flop. I didn’t think OKC had the critical mass for success. Obviously I was wrong.
I’m not writing this to sell my ability to predict future success or demise, rather as credential for the comparison I’m about to make.
My view was that The West End was a developer’s money-grab… The City of Dallas seemed to just jump on the bandwagon. The District was a relatively isolated island of entertainment without significant links to other sustaining city elements. It was a true flash-in-the-pan. (I think the “Historical” status of the West End was also a contributing factor. At that time it was vogue to be “historical” and there was much ado about it from a regulatory perspective… Many good designs were killed by overly cautious design guidelines. The historical aspect has been less emphasized in Bricktown’s story. This is good.)
I think that the City of OKC was more involved with the conception and birth of Bricktown, and now clearly holds the control strings. This won’t necessarily ensure its longevity, but I think its location will. Bricktown’s adjacency to the Arena-Convention-Hotel elements as well as the budding River District and Core-to-Shore development puts it in a place of more future significance rather than less. And don’t forget housing! Although several housing projects were attempted in the West End, none ever got off the ground.
Another factor in the West End’s demise is the shear size and variety offered in Dallas. Its a much more fertile environment for competing zones to quickly grow and die. OKC’s smaller size and limited urban diversity might actually be a good thing… Bricktown is more important to us than the West End was to Dallas.”