I’ve covered Jim Brewer for more than a dozen years. During those times and I’ve seen the bad and the good. I’ve seen him promote the district and fight against those who disaparaged it. When consultants wanted to go with just one single walkway along the Bricktown Canal (gotta love those consultants – they’re always right, right?), Brewer cursed, yelled and threw a fit insisting that the design go with the two-level design that is so popular today.
Brewer did much to make Bricktown the destination it is today. But he’s also leaving behind so many unfinished buildings – properties with broken windows, even wads of used chewing gum on the brick of one of the most prominent structures on the canal. And not eveyone agrees that he’s simply benefiting from a free market when rates at his parking lots hit $20 on special event days (in past years he’s been quick to point out his lunch rates have stayed at a low $3).
Brewer is leaving Bricktown. Most or all of his properties are up for sale. He’s in declining health. So what’s his legacy? The original developer of Bricktown, Neal Horton, has been honored quite a bit in the past few years (he died in 1992). But the downtown community has been more conflicted about what honor is due to Jim Brewer.
His legacy, it appears, is a bit confusing. Brewer isn’t someone who hides his thoughts and feelings about what’s going on the district. I believe he truly loves Bricktown, even if not everyone likes what he has and hasn’t done.
To understand Jim Brewer’s legacy, it’s helpful to understand who Jim really is. He finally agreed to share with me details of his early years. Hopefully it will help you in understanding the man as much as it helped me.
A decade ago, I met Jesse Jackson. Shaking his hand, it felt like I was grasping a bit of history. That’s not to say I agree or like everything Jackson says or does. But you’ve got to appreciate that this is a historic figure. And that’s how it might end up being with Jim Brewer – some might not always agree with his methods, his actions or outcome, but it’s difficult to deny this man truly changed the course of downtown Oklahoma City and the city itself.
I hope you enjoy today’s stories. Start reading here.