Let’s start with a fairly simple idea, one that doesn’t need a lot of money or land: urban basketball.
It’s the sort of thing that adds vitality and provides an outlet for young people to enjoy urban neighborhoods in other cities, and yet we have nothing like this in Oklahoma City. A couple of years ago a group of young professionals played “urban football” in the Civic Center Park (I’m going to start calling it by its historic name). These were trouble makers, of course, considering they included downtown dwellers like Casey Cornett. This proved to an uneasy situation for the folks at the Civic Center Music Hall, who see the park as something other than a field for sports.
So be it.
But couldn’t downtown provide such a venue with minimal effort? Urban football just requires a flat lot. Downtown has those in spades. Likewise, a basketball court wouldn’t take too much room at all. Build one on the ODOT right of way that runs through Deep Deuce (maybe next to the Deep Deuce Grill parking lot?). I can see other potential locations in MidTown, Automobile Alley and, gasp! the central business district.
A corporate sponsorship through Downtown Oklahoma City Inc. could easily make this happen.
A good discussion has evolved with my post on downtown views I’d like to see carried into a separate thread here. Back in the late 1990s I saw a lot of my peers depart for other states. They had lost hope in Oklahoma City, were bored, and were determined to go elsewhere to seek their fortunes.
I had that opportunity as well. In the summer of 1989 I had a chance to work at a newspaper in New York. I can only imagine the different direction my career might have taken if I had stuck it out. But I wasn’t happy in New York, even though I had lived there the first 12 years of my life. It was no longer home.
So I stuck it out in Oklahoma City. And for this soon to be 45-year-old, the glass is, in many ways, half full. I’ve seen a dramatic transformation of downtown and surrounding neighborhoods like Paseo and 16th Street Plaza District.
But I can see how Generation Y might see the glass as half empty. But consider this – they don’t seem eager to leave. They want to stay. They want to see things improve. And most importantly – they see the glass as half empty, and not completely empty.
So how can we fill up that glass?
I suspect the 16th Street Plaza District is about to make all the right steps forward in attracting new restaurants, new entertainment venues to round out what is quickly becoming a great urban neighborhood.
Likewise, Paseo is virtually on target already. Give John Belt a chance to decide what to do with the recently renovated former Spaghetti Factory building, and along with the art galleries, restaurants, etc., it’s got the sort of cool urban vibe that makes it very different than anything in Oklahoma.
I think NW 23 has the same potential. Imagine the Tower Theater home to Alamo Draft House Theater. The chain once expressed an interest in OKC, but a deal didn’t follow. To learn more about Alamo, and see why this quirky outfit would be a perfect fit with nearby Paseo, the tattoo and piercing shops, Big Truck Tacos, the Gold Dome, etc., go here.
And what about areas like Deep Deuce and MidTown? The glass in both neighborhoods is indeed half empty/half full, but realize the pending influx of housing and commercial development could add significant life to both neighborhoods.
So what’s missing? Jeff, what’s needed most, I’d argue, is for folks like you to stay and be a part of the effort of filling that glass just a bit more…
Now I ask everyone else; what ideas do you have to fill up the glass?
By my calculation up to $2 billion is being invested downtown between now and 2015. So what do you like when you look at downtown today? What don’t you like? If you could change one thing, what would it be?
As with Marva Ellard and Chuck Wiggin, this third proposal is submitted by folks with extensive experience with Urban Renewal. Mike Henderson and Gary Brooks developed Legacy at Arts Quarter, and it appears as if Henderson might have gotten a bit bored during his “retirement.”
NOTE: When I did my original reporting Wednesday, I had some massive binders to go through for each proposal. There was no one page that had all the standard needed information for my story, so each binder took about 30 to 45 minutes to sort through.
That said, one important correction: The Edge, which is proposed by Brooks and Henderson, will not include any mix of retail as featured by the Ellard and Wiggin.
First, let’s look at more renderings and site plans for Marva Ellard’s proposal:Mercy Redevelopers 030711 (2)
To those of you accustomed to visiting the skyline cam at NewsOK, you’ve noticed the problems we’ve been having lately with camera angles, etc. The cam is down right now being repaired. I’ll update you when I can.