Bert Belanger kept to his word and bulldozed a series of flop houses on Broadway Drive that have been an annoyance to downtowners for the past 20 years. There is something seriously wrong with a property when the arrival of sex offenders is considered an improvement over the previous tenants. The sex offenders were forced to move out earlier this year after neighbors complained they were to close to the Oklahoma School and Science and Math. It was then that Bert bought the properties from Hand Up Ministries.
Bert is to appear at Downtown Design Review Committee this week on plans to tear down the neighboring former nursing home, which has been empty for several years and is also a less than flattering image for passersby driving into Automobile Alley.
This beauty at 100 NE 8 has looked like this for quite some time. And until 2006, it was owned by the Corsair Cattle Co., which also owned the former Pat’s Lounge building on NW 10 now being renovated by Greg Banta.
The billboard is an interesting approach to zoning. This property is visible to thousands who travel I-235 into downtown.
The property was sold to the Triangle development group in 2006 for $353,000, and they are now seeking to have the building torn down.
I can’t remember a time when these duplexes along Broadway Drive at NW 11 were anything but trouble for downtown. Several years ago they were well known crack houses. Hand Up Ministries bought them, fixed them up, and then turned them into halfway houses for sex offenders. The neighborhood didn’t like that either, and by last fall, authorities were responding to complaints that they were illegally within the prohibited range of a school (the Oklahoma School of Math and Sciences). Anyway, by winter, they were history.
They’ve quickly fallen into disrepair, extensively vandalized – likely by copper thieves. Anyway, Bert Belanger admits they are his now, and he is preparing to tear them down for an undisclosed future development.
Now, what would work well on this site (and realize his holdings will including the junk yard to the east on NW 11 and the boarded up nursing home across the street, which he also says will be cleared).
Read my story here.
UPDATE: Old Downtown Guy, a man definitely in the know about what’s happening in the city, comments on Bert’s past work and predicts that housing may be on the way for Broadway Drive. Read his comments here at www.okctalk.com.
304 NE 3 – The heart of Deep Deuce and nominated for Worst Downtown Eyesore.
Let’s see now… it’s been boarded up since at least 2002, it has broken windows and the siding is peeling off. I know it was placed at least once on the city’s “long-term boarded-up buildings” list but not sure if any action followed.
Oklahoma County Assessor records show the building was built in 1915 and is owned by Melvin F. Luster.
A couple of weeks ago I posted the following question at www.okctalk.com: what are the worst downtown eyesores?
Here’s the list they compiled:
Old Downtown Library
Former Stewart Metal buildings
304 NE 3 (Deep Deuce)
Former Fox Collission Building
Bob Howard Ford
Union Bus Station
First National Arcade
Garage at Kerr and Harvey
Park Harvey Building
Former nightclub at Main and Walker
Goodyear Tire store
Bricktown Parking Garage
U-Haul building in Bricktown
So, what’s next? I’ve got a camera, and I’m preparing to take some photos of these “eyesores.” Then I’ll provide details on some of these properties, followed by a poll here at www.okccentral.com. The more of you who vote in this poll, the more likely it is you might nudge someone to make some improvements. Now, quiz time friends… which one of these “eyesores” is the only Oklahoma City property to win one of the highest architectural honors possible? Which property was deemed one of the city’s most significant architectural landmarks by a panel of architects and preservationists? Which building is owned by dedicated urban pioneers who have led in their district’s revival? And which building is closest to becoming history?
Does this sign make the best impression?
Photos courtesy of Pete Brzycki, administrator at www.okctalk.com.
Over at www.okctalk.com, the discussion this weekend is about the old Santa Fe Train Depot at Broadway and E.K. Gaylord. Owner Jim Brewer is apparently nearing the end of a three-year-long renovation. Pete Brzycki took a grand tour of downtown with his camera this past week while searching out a place for a reunion. As he notes, Oklahoma City may not be making the best impression on visitors coming through the old depot to ride the Heartland Flyer to and from Fort Worth.
Note that this very simple upkeep is being neglected as city voters have agreed to spend more than $100 million to turn Ford Center into a world-class statement that says that Oklahoma City is a major league city.
Purely Sinful is apparently history, if one is to take notice of the removed sign and empty storefront along Sheridan Avenue. The bar, along with the neighboring Spyce, which is still in business, drew large late night crowds on summer evenings. Critics claimed the bars attracted a bad element to the entertainment district and may have contributed the gang violence two years ago. The bar owners dismissed that criticism and provided me with a tour of their operations that showed no signs of trouble inside their establishments. They also welcomed a police crackdown outside the clubs, as shown in this photo I took at the time.
It’s interesting to note the pattern of property owners taking the following approach to juvenile crime and loitering:
QUEENS (CBS) ― Teenagers who hang out inside one apartment building in Jamaica, Queens are getting an earful these days.
A new security device called “The Mosquito” has been installed in the lobby of a building on 170th St. where there have been chronic problems with noisy teens.
The wall-mounted device emits a high-frequency screech that can only be heard by people aged 13 to 25. Most older people cannot hear it.
“It sounds like when you put a microphone close to the TV,” said Jerry Brown, one of the younger residents, who admits the noise bothers him “a little bit.”
Another teen added, “it’s annoying.”
But one young adult said, “it doesn’t bother me.”
The building superintendent said the mosquito has kept the lobby free of loitering teenagers, so far.
(© MMVIII, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)
Of course, by doing this, one must wonder if it could dent the social lives of the self described “young, amazing and strikingly attractive” Lost Ogles, who have discovered this fascinating vintage campaign commercial for an Oklahoma City bond issue from some 40 some odd years ago.
Couple of thoughts today…
Expect the city council to consider once again a sale of space inside the Journal Record Building to the Oklahoma City Public Schools administration. This will fill up a large amount of space that has sat vacant since the city bought the building after it was damaged by the 1995 bombing of the nearby Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.
The sale will bring hundreds of workers to north downtown, and will almost certainly be a nice bump for nearby businesses like Markee’s Deli.
Today’s Main Street column looks at panhandling and how downtown Oklahoma City is trying to do away with what is regarded by most merchants as a threat to continued development. And in many cities, enforcement to eliminate such solicitation is stepping up as far as the courts will allow.
I’ve provided some examples of what’s being done in other cities. What have you seen that you think might be effective in Oklahoma City? Or do you think panhandling should be allowed?