View Full Version : Some thoughts after a quick visit to OKC

09-17-2007, 08:12 PM
I was in town over the weekend for a college reunion but took some time Sunday to drive around and check out a lot of the latest and greatest development stuff.

First of all, the Skirvin is a knockout and an absolute jewel in downtown OKC. Can't tell you how great it felt to see that place restored and thriving.

Part of the reunion was at Crabtown (we rented the upstairs) and of course, Bricktown was hopping. A lot of the guys were from out of town and were really impressed with the area, as many had not been in OKC for a while.

Midtown is definitely starting to stir. So many projects that are just wrapping up so still a bit dead but that is really starting to change. If I were to buy a house back there it would be in Mesta Park, within easy walking distance of Plaza Court and all the new eclectic restaurants and bars in that area. Plus, that neighborhood is just so darn pretty.

But... Once you go south of 10th there is a big gap of nothingness between Midtown and downtown, at least along Walker and Dewey -- not so much further east. Sure hope that area fills in because it still has the air of a depressed city.

It was great to see all the various condo/loft projects that seem to be reaching completion all at the same time. The one that looks like it will be really cool is the Brownstones at Maywood. They will all have great views and will be in the heart of the Triangle once that gets going. The less expensive development that is immediately east of there is going to sell very fast I believe.

I made a special trip to see the CHK boathouse and Regatta Park, the river trails and the Land Run sculptures. Man oh man does that river area have great potential! It will be very exciting to watch things unfold there.

And speaking of Chesapeake, that campus is just becoming a monster. Just about everything on the south side of 63rd has been demolished (including Pearls) and that new, somewhat funky parking garage actually looks sharp in person. They still have to add the funkiest parts like the translucent panels and neon lights but I have a feeling those elements won't come across as boldly as the renderings have depicted.

Founders Tower looks much better with the new glass. Looking forward to seeing the upper floors finished as well but I bet those properties really appreciate with time.

The airport looks just great. Not only the terminal but also the gardens and the exterior facade. Very impressive.

The only negative is nothing new: absurd sprawl. All those mega-churches and discount stores and chain restaurants on Memorial and the out-lying areas... Ugh. And the worst thing about that is the west/northwest side of town is really starting to look shabby because everyone has merely left for Edmond and the QS area.

Okay, one more not-so-positive thing: The area north of the state capitol is just awful. All along Lincoln there are loads of abandoned buildings and vacant lots and really not much of anything. Yet just south of the capitol complex the HSC is completely thriving. It's a bizarre and shocking contrast.

But people there are just so incredibly upbeat and proud of their town! I've said it before but that is by far the biggest change since I left there in the late 80's. And it's probably the most valuable asset in the community because citizens are clearly ready to back and support new initiatives and developments.

09-18-2007, 08:12 AM
You have to remember that Lincoln is in the process of being "corrected". Those vacant lots are places where buildings used to be, but the city had them torn down. It really is much improved over what it was, but it still needs A LOT of work. I wish we could convince some type of office type spaces to go in along that corridor between the capital and I-44. I like the improved view where they have replaced the median lighting with road-side. It works nicely to frame the capital.

09-18-2007, 08:29 AM
Yeah, I've always been absolutely baffled as to why areas so close to the capitol were zoned industrial in the first place. It has improved a lot, but still looks really trashy.

09-18-2007, 09:31 AM
the west/northwest side of town is really starting to look shabby because everyone has merely left for Edmond and the QS area.

So true. I went to PC North so I grew up in that area and it was thriving back in the 80s and began a slow decline in the 90s. Now when I go back there it's just sad. It's like a ghost town. The neighborhoods around the school are going downhill as well and I'm sure the school is beginning to go downhill when it used to have such a stellar reputation. At 122nd and Macarthur everything is gone. Time Out for Burgers has been leveled for years, no grocery store, wine store or Little Ceasers. It's really sad to see the place where I grew up end up like this.

Eliminate the sprawl, do infill and smart growth. People keep moving further north to leave the city behind but the city keeps following them because they want the quick stops and restaurants nearby.

09-18-2007, 12:36 PM
I think as gasoline prices get higher and the city provides more downtown entertainment, the increase in sprawl will slow considerably. In some ways, the lack of light rail slows it down because there is a finite distance people are willing to live from their work. Since I moved here, I've seen huge improvements in neighborhoods like Edgemere and Mesta Park, and of course downtown housing was a joke. I knew some of the people who built Sycamore Square, and they lost their shirts on it. Now, when you see all the new possibilities for living in or near downtown, it looks very appealing.

09-18-2007, 12:56 PM
Right next to Joe's Crab Shack on NW Expressway just west of McArthur, there is a huge pawn shop where a large restaurant used to be. Looks absolutely terrible and that entire corridor is in decline.

Won't be long and people will be leaving Edmond for Deer Creek -- in fact, it's already starting to happen.