Retail development will be an important element in creating vibrant new neighborhoods. Currently, there is a relatively limited supply of retail and services to support downtown employees and residents. Expansion of the resident, visitor, and employee base downtown will help to support new retail facilities in key locations that meet retailer needs and requirements.
The Core to Shore Plan calls for aggressive retail development on the blocks south of Myriad Gardens to the new Boulevard. During the interviews, the panel heard desires for a major new shopping destination with a department store anchor—dreams of a Nordstrom or a Neiman Marcus. The panel cautions that destination retail on this scale is not going to happen. Downtown lacks the density of residents, employees, and visitors to support such a major facility. Furthermore, very few department stores are being built today, and the incentive packages required to attract one to a downtown location start at $40 million or more.
Moreover, the blocks south of Myriad Gardens and north of the new Boulevard are not the best location for major retail facilities. Good retail streets have low speeds and retail on both sides of the street. Shopping along the Boulevard should be focused more on restaurants and cafés to serve downtown employees and residents, as well as shops with cards and gifts, office supplies, and sundries.
From the perspective of Oklahoma City’s regional market, more appropriate than a large department store would be smaller lifestyle-type retailers such as restaurants, a bookstore, home furnishings stores, and a few apparel retailers that do not depend on department stores to attract customers. The types of lifestyle retailers that could be attracted to create a concentration of retail space will require both pedestrian activity and auto access and parking. Such retailers would fare better if clustered in Bricktown, both as infill uses and in a center at the eastern end of Bricktown near Bass Pro Shops. This location would offer greater visibility to regional residents from I-235 and to visitors to Bass Pro Shops and Bricktown.