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  1. #1
    ShiroiHikari's Avatar
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    Default What happened to NW OKC?

    A few days ago, I got the chance to take a look at some vacant mid-century homes that are currently up for sale. One of them was near NW 10th and Rockwell. The house itself was really cool-- great landscaping in both the front and back yard, nice facade, great floor plan. It looked to be in decent shape for the most part (except that the front door had obviously been kicked in at some point). Most of the other houses in the immediate neighborhood also looked like they were well-kept (or at least, not poorly kept).

    The rest of the surrounding area, though? It looked like a demilitarized zone.

    Driving east on NW 10th from MacArthur to Rockwell was one of the most depressing things I've done in a long time. There's very little retail to speak of-- it seems to be nothing but 1970s apartment complexes, several of which are boarded up and rotting, some with entire units that have been completely burnt out!

    In high school, I had a friend who lived in the NW 19th and MacArthur area. Back in the late 90s and early 2000s, the area wasn't bad. It wasn't great either, but it was certainly better than it is now.

    My question is: What happened here? I mean, pretty much everything north of I-40 and west of I-35 is rundown now. Does it have something to do with the downtown revitalization? Is it because everyone moved to Moore/SW OKC? What causes whole areas to decline so rapidly? Why did they build so many apartments there in the first place?

  2. #2
    Achilleslastand's Avatar
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    Default Re: What happened to NW OKC?

    It has nothing to do with downtown and everything to do with demographics.

  3. #3
    stlokc is offline Participating Member
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    Default Re: What happened to NW OKC?

    I think it's a huge stretch to say everything north of I-40 and west of I-35 is rundown. That's -what - about 70% of OKC?

    I will say this - I subscribe to Rudy Guiliani's broken window theory. When a neighborhood starts to go downhill, it needs to be addressed early or it starts to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  4. #4
    adaniel is offline Gold Member
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    Default Re: What happened to NW OKC?

    Not sure what this has to do with the downtown rejuvenation. There are plenty of inner city neighborhoods that are north of 40 and west of 35 that are healthier than they've been in decades.

    Also, I think you are intermingling commercial areas and apartments with actual neighborhoods that people spend time in. No doubt a lot of commercial areas and apartments built in that area now look like crap, but that was throwaway development to begin with. That stuff wasn't meant to last 40 years. Most of the neighborhoods that are largely owner occupied still look fine.

  5. #5
    OKCTalker is offline Gold Member
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    Default Re: What happened to NW OKC?

    OKC's large geographic size has always cut both ways because land was relatively cheap, and over time, disposable. Don't forget that residential renters are fickle, and they'll move when they get a better offer from the newer place down the street.

    The bust of the 1980s left a "high water mark" of commercial development in NW OKC near 122nd & MacArthur/Rockwell. You could go there for years and find unfinished strip centers, sometimes with the buildings finished but not even concrete poured inside. It wasn't until many years later that development resumed, those places filled in, and expansion continued. Left behind were properties further in, like along Britton Road east of Lake Hefner, also run down.

    This is typical of urban development in large geographic cities.

  6. #6
    Snowman's Avatar
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    Default Re: What happened to NW OKC?

    Driving east on NW 10th from MacArthur to Rockwell was one of the most depressing things I've done in a long time. There's very little retail to speak of-- it seems to be nothing but 1970s apartment complexes, several of which are boarded up and rotting, some with entire units that have been completely burnt out!
    At least few of those apartment complexes completely failed and were abandoned, which became a magnet for criminals to either move in or use them temporally, so various types of crimes would have spiked in the near vicinity. From what I heard from one city official was that most of the burning were either from manufacture of drugs on the premises or to destroy evidence of other crimes talking place there. They have been working on changing ordinariness since in cases like this it has been cheaper for the owners to just ignore the properties than fix, sell or doze it.

    It is also possible that the reduction of workforce at the old AT&T manufacturing plant starting probably in the eighties and eventual closing in the later nineties would have furthered the slide.

  7. #7
    Steve's Avatar
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    Default Re: What happened to NW OKC?

    The answers are in this thread; the over building of apartment complexes that were then not maintained, the loss of high paying jobs at not just the AT&T plant, but also Dayton Tire, etc. And then add in the adult oriented businesses that opened up along with the Red Dog Saloon on NW 10....

  8. #8
    ShiroiHikari's Avatar
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    Default Re: What happened to NW OKC?

    Let me be more specific. I'm mostly talking about the Putnam City/Bethany/Warr Acres part of town, but parts of that area are technically OKC. I'm not talking about anything north of NW Expressway. That's a whole different can of worms.

    Also, I did say that the neighborhood/subdivision was still looking pretty good for being 40-ish years old. The problem is the rest of the area. Why doesn't the city do something about the abandoned apartment complexes? If I've been informed correctly, that sort of thing affects home prices in a big way. Why let the whole area go to pot (no pun intended) when there are some nice neighborhoods there? The fact is that abandoned structures are crime magnets and the longer they let it sit, the more money and time it will cost to renew it in the future.

    Edit: Didn't know there used to be an AT&T plant. I was born in 1983; cut me some slack. Also I had forgotten about the closure of Dayton Tire. That was definitely a blow.

  9. #9
    Snowman's Avatar
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    Default Re: What happened to NW OKC?

    Quote Originally Posted by ShiroiHikari View Post
    Edit: Didn't know there used to be an AT&T plant.
    It was the complex of buildings on the north east corner of Reno and Council.

  10. #10
    ShiroiHikari's Avatar
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    Default Re: What happened to NW OKC?

    Oh yeah, I think I know the one-- near the new outlet mall, right? I was wondering what that used to be.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: What happened to NW OKC?

    I agree West OKC west of I-44 and south of 39th St is starting to look more and more like the Southside. In the late '90s that wasn't the greatest area but it definitely wasn't as bad as it is today. Now its downright ghetto in many places.

  12. #12
    Snowman's Avatar
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    Default Re: What happened to NW OKC?

    Quote Originally Posted by ShiroiHikari View Post
    Oh yeah, I think I know the one-- near the new outlet mall, right? I was wondering what that used to be.
    Yea, just north of the new mall

  13. #13
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    Default Re: What happened to NW OKC?

    More of NW OKC is still nice than people claim. It's just shocking because the wide swath from Bethany to Nichols Hills did used to be "the Edmond" of a bygone era.

    East Cleveland in the 1800s was Millionaires Row, including Rockefeller. Now it's the most dangerous locality in Ohio (which says a lot). Far-out sprawl, no matter how nice, will ALWAYS decline...sometimes dramatically.

    Edmond is nice now, for the most part. But in 50-75 years it probably won't be. Most everything along Boulevard has already gone to crap.
    Gone to the ballpark. Go Tribe!

  14. #14
    RoboNerd is offline Participating Member
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    Default Re: What happened to NW OKC?

    Quote Originally Posted by ShiroiHikari View Post
    Oh yeah, I think I know the one-- near the new outlet mall, right? I was wondering what that used to be.
    It's one of many monuments to Right-to-Work's success in Oklahoma. The empty tire plant about half a mile south of it is another one. That law sure didn't work out as advertised...

  15. #15
    Jim Kyle's Avatar
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    Default Re: What happened to NW OKC?

    That's a bit of an overstatement. The Western Electric facility was a victim of the breakup of the original AT&T; it wasn't the only victim, either...

  16. #16
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    Default Re: What happened to NW OKC?

    Lucent/Celestica, which owned the Western Electric plant when it closed, began winding down operations, preparing to shut it down in 2000; the Right to Work ballot was passed by voters in 2001.

  17. #17
    stlokc is offline Participating Member
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    Default Re: What happened to NW OKC?

    I will freely admit that I'm not terribly familiar with the area in question. From the comments in the thread, it would appear that the problems of this area are not so much the housing subdivisions as the commercial corridors - vacant buildings, blighted streetscapes, etc. My mind turns to Lincoln Blvd, and how a concerted effort to upgrade that corridor has begun to turn the tide. The neighborhoods surrounding that street are likely in much worse shape than the area in question, but leaving that aside, it's apparent that the Lincoln Blvd of today is an improvement over the Lincoln Blvd of my youth.

    Gets me thinking - what if the city could focus like a laser beam on the commercial corridors of struggling areas? What would that look like? I'm just spitballing, but I'm thinking of the oft-discussed MAPS 4. If such a program could raise a billion dollars, what would $300 million or so do for NW 10, NW 23, NW 36? (In this idea, $300 million could go to NE OKC and $300 million to the inner southside - call it "MAPS for neighborhoods")

    I wouldn't advocate clear cutting of the Lincoln Blvd variety - this area is not so far gone - but what if the city could take the money, marry it with other types of grants and programs and get to work? Could we purchase struggling shopping centers, rehabilitate them and sell them (a stretch)? Could we buy the vacant apartment complexes, raze them

  18. #18
    stlokc is offline Participating Member
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    Default Re: What happened to NW OKC?

    Wow. So frustrating time and again to pen a lengthy response only to have it erased and/or be told "I can't perform this action because I'm not logged in" even though I've logged out, logged in, and re-written three times. It finally posts and it only posts a portion of it. You'll have to just take my last post and imagine the rest. I promise I was pithy and intelligent Good night.

  19. #19
    RadicalModerate is offline Gold Member
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    Default Re: What happened to NW OKC?

    Quote Originally Posted by ShiroiHikari View Post
    Driving east on NW 10th from MacArthur to Rockwell was one of the most depressing things I've done in a long time.
    That would be a bummer . . . Especially on account of Rockwell is west of MacArthur.
    Why . . . It would probably take about a year to make the one mile journey.
    (on the other hand, if the journey rather than the destination is the main thing . . . =)

  20. #20
    Snowman's Avatar
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    Default Re: What happened to NW OKC?

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve View Post
    Lucent/Celestica, which owned the Western Electric plant when it closed, began winding down operations, preparing to shut it down in 2000; the Right to Work ballot was passed by voters in 2001.
    My dad worked at that plant for like thirty years and I can tell you that it's closing almost certainly had nothing to do with right to work. After it was bought by Celestica it was a shell of itself and the market for that equipment was getting bad soon to get worse, 2000 was also the height of the MCI fiasco and when the dot com bubble burst leaving overcapacity in telcom company's networks, which is the type of equipment they produced there, so the market went from multiple companies expanding their networks to virtually no one expanding for several years. There was rumors when Celestica bought them for to get the customer base than the manufacturing capability as Celestica had enough manufacturing capacity to fill both companies needs and many people were planning their next job, I can not say for certain that was their intent but their behavior after purchase was inline with those suspicions.

  21. #21
    bchris02's Avatar
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    Default Re: What happened to NW OKC?

    Quote Originally Posted by stlokc View Post
    I will freely admit that I'm not terribly familiar with the area in question. From the comments in the thread, it would appear that the problems of this area are not so much the housing subdivisions as the commercial corridors - vacant buildings, blighted streetscapes, etc. My mind turns to Lincoln Blvd, and how a concerted effort to upgrade that corridor has begun to turn the tide. The neighborhoods surrounding that street are likely in much worse shape than the area in question, but leaving that aside, it's apparent that the Lincoln Blvd of today is an improvement over the Lincoln Blvd of my youth.

    Gets me thinking - what if the city could focus like a laser beam on the commercial corridors of struggling areas? What would that look like? I'm just spitballing, but I'm thinking of the oft-discussed MAPS 4. If such a program could raise a billion dollars, what would $300 million or so do for NW 10, NW 23, NW 36? (In this idea, $300 million could go to NE OKC and $300 million to the inner southside - call it "MAPS for neighborhoods")

    I wouldn't advocate clear cutting of the Lincoln Blvd variety - this area is not so far gone - but what if the city could take the money, marry it with other types of grants and programs and get to work? Could we purchase struggling shopping centers, rehabilitate them and sell them (a stretch)? Could we buy the vacant apartment complexes, raze them
    I think in terms of suburban areas, the free market should be allowed to decide. OKC should concentrate more police coverage in problem areas but I think any incentives to revitalize far west OKC would be better spent in the urban core or areas directly to the north.

  22. #22
    Snowman's Avatar
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    Default Re: What happened to NW OKC?

    Gets me thinking - what if the city could focus like a laser beam on the commercial corridors of struggling areas? What would that look like? I'm just spitballing, but I'm thinking of the oft-discussed MAPS 4. If such a program could raise a billion dollars, what would $300 million or so do for NW 10, NW 23, NW 36? (In this idea, $300 million could go to NE OKC and $300 million to the inner southside - call it "MAPS for neighborhoods")
    I am not sure you can focus like a laser on the commercial corridors, most of the mile grid streets/arteries within the i240/i44/i35 interstate loop could stand some sort of improvement. Another thing that has not been helping the NW is more people seem to be getting concerned about Putnam City Schools.

  23. #23
    mkjeeves is offline Participating Member
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    Default Re: What happened to NW OKC?

    Quote Originally Posted by bchris02 View Post
    I think in terms of suburban areas, the free market should be allowed to decide. OKC should concentrate more police coverage in problem areas but I think any incentives to revitalize far west OKC would be better spent in the urban core or areas directly to the north.
    Disagree. The idea we should continue to pour money into downtown and let the rest of the city rot is appalling. Especially considering the vast majority of city revenue comes from the areas we're talking about, NW OKC. There's property taxes generated downtown but there's little to no sales tax. The residents (who don't live downtown and have no intention of ever living downtown) have agreed through maps to work on downtown to a point and for a reason. I don't think most of the citizens would agree to make that the long term policy nor support leaders who act in that manner.

    NW 10th should be on the slate for rehab all the way to Council. The city started on it and worked outward to Penn. They need to continue. If not, I'd suggest maybe they deannex everything west of Western and north of 23rd and we'll use our tax dollars to rework it ourselves.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: What happened to NW OKC?

    Quote Originally Posted by mkjeeves View Post
    Disagree. The idea we should continue to pour money into downtown and let the rest of the city rot is appalling. Especially considering the vast majority of city revenue comes from the areas we're talking about, NW OKC. There's property taxes generated downtown but there's little to no sales tax. The residents (who don't live downtown and have no intention of ever living downtown) have agreed through maps to work on downtown to a point and for a reason. I don't think most of the citizens would agree to make that the long term policy nor support leaders who act in that manner.

    NW 10th should be on the slate for rehab all the way to Council. The city started on it and worked outward to Penn. They need to continue. If not, I'd suggest maybe they deannex everything west of Western and north of 23rd and we'll use our tax dollars to rework it ourselves.
    It's not that all the money should be poured into downtown and the rest of the city let rot. It's should that money be spent to revitalize a declining suburban area when the original demographic of that area have moved on to other suburban areas, most notable West Edmond and West Moore (OKC city limits)? What do you propose should be done to revitalize that corridor?

  25. #25
    mkjeeves is offline Participating Member
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    Default Re: What happened to NW OKC?

    I disagree with the premise. The occupancy rate of homes in NW OKC is essentially the same as it's always been. (Apartments on 10th street notwithstanding.) NW OKC is not Detroit.

    We didn't replace it with homes in other places. The homes are still there. People still live in them and will continue to live in them. We added homes in other places.

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