View Full Version : NE 7th & MLK/Eastern

03-22-2011, 07:50 AM
Some development you probably won't hear about, but there has been some nice residential and commercial development in the Oklahoma City Douglass High School area, don't know who the developer is, but they have really revitalized that area...anyone have more info? Doubt it, areas like this don't get that much positive media coverage, go figure...

03-22-2011, 09:21 AM
Isn't this all due to Urban Renewal in the Kennedy area? Housing Authority? It really doesn't get the coverage it deserves but after driving through the area I will say that I think the lot sizes are ridiculous for an inner-city neighborhood. But I'm glad it's happening.

Also, in a sort of related fashion, the new neighborhood going in on SE 59th and Shields is progressing rapidly and looks really good. So is the small housing development on SE 25th north of Wheeler.

03-22-2011, 09:29 AM
If you really look at it, that residential housing development on NE 7th and MLK is currently the closest area to downtown, where you can buy a single family home, with a front and backyard, that was built 2010 and up! The single family homes I suppose were phase I, phase II to the north looks like mostly town homes, they look nice. I think its the closest suburban style development to downtown right now!

03-22-2011, 09:48 AM
This is an interesting development that has been going very slow, these newer homes started at least 6 or 7 years ago. It has been recognized in the media once or twice, but it doesn't get much media coverage because of the lengthy schedule.

This is another reason I am always pushing for an OCURA Website. It would be good to be able to view and track all developments that have OCURA ties such as this.

Again contact the Oklahoma city council and ask when we will see an OCURA website.

03-22-2011, 09:52 AM
It looks like they have picked up the pace, especially with the town homes. I think its good, as it provides new suburban style living in the inner-city, that will attract more families closer to downtown. Also, there is some dirt clearing a block south, at NE 4th and MLK, but have no idea what is going to go there...not to mention its across the street from Oklahoma City Douglass High School, which looks like a college campus, lol.

03-22-2011, 11:13 AM
I don't think Douglass looks anything like a college campus, but it's great to be filling in the urban donut hole. But I think new housing off of SW 15th and SW 25th might be closer.

03-22-2011, 11:30 AM
Spartan, if you went to a real school you would know that Douglas resembles some of the better college campuses around. MACU on Broadway and OCCC on the southside.

03-22-2011, 01:24 PM
Spartan, if you went to a real school you would know that Douglas resembles some of the better college campuses around. MACU on Broadway and OCCC on the southside.

?? I'm not sure what kind of "better" college campus you are referring to? OCCC definitely is not a "better" looking campus in the state, much less around the region or nation. It has maybe 5 buildings.

03-22-2011, 08:53 PM
It's overdue for an update. By my estimate there have been at least a few dozen very nice homes built in JFK since I last wrote about it. Here's what I've written in the past:

If you rebuild it, they'll come, city residents say

By Steve Lackmeyer
Staff Writer
Sunday, July 6, 2003
Edition: City, Section: NEWS, Page 1-A
Linked Objects: (Click image for details)
In an area that once was a slum and where poverty still hovers at 39 percent, state trooper Wayne Linzy is building a dream home for his young family.

When city officials launched an urban renewal program 40 years ago, they targeted three areas of town: the site of the OU Medical Center, downtown and the John F. Kennedy neighborhood.

The city spent $50 million in 15 years removing hundreds of homes in the neighborhood, hoping to create a model inner-city community one mile east of downtown.

That dream, however, never materialized and the neighborhood today is a hodgepodge of low- to moderate-income homes built between the late 1960s and early 1980s.

Many lots remain empty.

Linzy grew up in JFK, and was witness to the triumphs and failures of urban renewal. His mother still lives just one block from where construction has begun on his $130,000 custom home.

"This is home," Linzy said. "It's not like I ever left the neighborhood. I grew up here. I have fond memories, and as any kid would have, I had good friends, folks and we grew up together."

Linzy and his wife, Lisa, say better times are ahead for the neighborhood. Two development groups already are negotiating contracts with the Urban Renewal Authority, each wanting to build about 20 homes near Linzy.

Another half-dozen developers have indicated they're eager to develop the north half of the neighborhood. The authority still owns about 500 lots in the neighborhood, with about 350 targeted for new homes and the remainder situated along commercial corridors ideal for retail development.

Bill Eudy, the Urban Renewal Authority's real-estate administrator, estimates developers are gearing up to build 150 homes in the area.

The renewed interest in JFK is prompting cautious optimism at Urban Renewal, where hope is alive the stalled project might finally succeed.

"There are a lot of ways to get this wrong," Eudy admits. "And there are very few ways to get it right."

'It was a slum'

City Councilwoman Willa Johnson, whose Ward 7 includes the JFK neighborhood and adjacent OU Medical Center, remembers what the area looked like before urban renewal.

"Having lived near there, I can say it needed to be torn down," Johnson said. "We have people who think back to their young days and say 'Oh my ... .' But what was there should have been gone when I was a kid. We had shotgun houses, plumbing problems, some really bad apartments on Sixth. It was a slum. It needed to be razed."

Architect James Williams has similar memories of his boyhood home, but said the neighborhood was more than the sum of its massive inventory of rental houses.

"It had a real neighborhood feel; it had the feel of an extended family," Williams said. "It had sidewalks; it had porches. You knew your neighbors. You could walk to the grocery store; you could walk to church. You could walk to your school. It was a very friendly community."

The first exodus from the area started when Williams' family and others began to move to Edwards Addition, the first development led by a black builder where black families could afford to buy houses.

"That took a lot of the black population away; it gave them a chance to own homes," Williams said.

Once the area was targeted by the Urban Renewal Authority, hundreds more families relocated. By the early 1970s, city inspectors estimated 5,000 homes and shops had been abandoned in the JFK neighborhood and the area targeted for expansion of the OU Medical Center.

Urban Renewal oversaw renovation of dozens of houses that didn't get razed. Dozens more were built by developers in the 1970s and early 1980s.

During the last spurt of JFK neighborhood development in the early 1980s, Williams returned to the neighborhood, helped draft guidelines for new home construction and built 11 himself.

"We realized we needed to not build the ghettos of the future," Williams said. "We need to build projects and homes that will take us into the next century."

The oil bust killed any momentum left in JFK — and when prosperity returned in the 1990s, the neighborhood was largely forgotten by developers and Urban Renewal.

Over the past decade, home construction in JFK has been limited to a few built by nonprofit organizations including Habitat for Humanity.

"It never got done," Johnson said. "But I don't want to lay the blame in Urban Renewal's lap. What we've not had is a product that will attract people back to the area."

Linzy decided early on to build his own home, and shopped around for a builder until he found a style he liked in far southwest Oklahoma City.

The suburbs, however, held no appeal for the state trooper.

"You don't walk around your neighbors anymore," Linzy said. "You get in your car, and the only time they see you is when you're backing out of the driveway. You lose your community."

Linzy didn't know what to expect when he decided to approach Urban Renewal for land to build the new home. He wanted to live near his mother, who still lives in JFK.

He also liked the idea of living near OU Medical Center, Bricktown and the new downtown MAPS venues such as the Ford Center.

The neighborhood also will be the beneficiary of the MAPS for Kids program, the overhaul of Oklahoma City Public Schools. Construction begins next year on a $31 million campus for Douglass High School on the east edge of JFK.

Linzy's new home, meanwhile, is being built across the street from Dunbar Elementary, which is scheduled for renovation into a foreign language magnet school.

Just east of the neighborhood is a reopened Jimmy Stewart Golf Course and Douglass Recreational Center.

"With all impending construction of the cinema and everything in Bricktown, and all that's been built downtown, we're literally in walking distance from almost everything," Linzy said. "When you look at everything around here, it comes into play when you decide where to raise a family."

The developers

Linzy wasn't the only one inquiring about housing in JFK, nor was he the only former resident who had prospered and was interested in returning. At Urban Renewal, Eudy found himself unable to locate any nice new homes for an OU Medical Center doctor who wanted to buy in JFK where he lived as a child.

When Urban Renewal sought development proposals for a south section of JFK a few months ago, Eudy got three responses, two of which have been deemed qualified. Eudy hopes contracts with both groups will be complete later this summer.

HGL Construction, a for-profit corporation, proposes building up to 20 homes. The company is led by Hollis Lloyd, founder of Diamonds Realty in Midwest City. The team's experience includes construction of the Diamonds Realty office building and an addition to the VA Hospital.

A second proposal for another 20 homes was submitted by Central Urban Development Inc., a nonprofit development group formed by the Northeast Church of Christ to spark both retail and residential development in northeast Oklahoma City.

The church's roots are in JFK, having once stood at NE 7 and Bath Avenue, not far from where Linzy is building his home. The church building was torn down years ago, but the sign still stands.

Williams, a city planning commissioner, is overseeing development for the group, while fellow church member Greg McGhee, a commercial banking manager at Commercial Federal Bank, is handling project financing.

"We have a great opportunity to build on what we have there now," Williams said. "The people there are invested. They want that kind of community. We're just going in and enhancing what's already there."

McGhee, whose bank is participating in the project, promises the homes will be affordable for people wanting to buy in the area, but won't be low-income housing. With support from Commercial Federal, McGhee estimates the three-

phase development will bring $5 million into JFK.

"It's part of our mission to take some calculated risks in depressed areas," McGhee said. "The management of our company is sold on the project. We're going to commit dollars to make this happen. Initially, these will be construction loans, and hopefully the construction loans will turn into mortgage loans."

McGhee and Williams say they already have interested buyers. And they're eager to see what happens when Urban Renewal issues a request for proposals for the north half of the neighborhood later this summer.

Eudy says up to a half-dozen for-profit and nonprofit companies and organizations will respond, including a city department that until recently only assisted in renovating old homes.

Bob Dailey, a housing rehabilitation coordinator with the city's neighborhood services division, said his office is starting a new federally funded program.

With $500,000 from the Department of Housing and Urban

Development, Dailey is looking to build 25 homes, 17 of which will be in the north half of JFK. MidFirst Bank has agreed to match the city's investment, doubling the number of potential new projects.

"If we build four, they'll give money to build four more," Dailey said. "And that allows for some to be low-income, and some to be at market. And you have a better chance of success because it will be mixed-income, not all low-income."


Eudy admits many obstacles remain to making JFK whole again. When Urban Renewal cleared blocks of old homes, the agency also replatted streets into a series of cul-de-sacs similar to a 1970s-era suburban neighborhood.

The 2000 U.S. Census, meanwhile, shows poverty hovering at 39 percent. But a comparison of figures from 1990 and 2000 also shows the percentage of residents earning more than $20,000 a year rose from 31.3 percent to 38.7 percent.

The neighborhood also is slightly more diverse, with black residents totaling 93.5 percent in 1990, compared with 91.1 percent in 2000. The number of homes in the area, however, declined from 3,703 to 3,567. The median value of the homes also dropped from $34,000 to $30,700.

Most important to Linzy, however, is the lack of an amenity many suburban dwellers take for granted: a grocery store.

McGhee said his group visited cities nationwide to look at neighborhood markets and spoke to numerous companies about opening more stores in northeast Oklahoma City.

The response, he said, was always the same.

"We went to the big food suppliers, we talked to Wal-Mart," McGhee said. "Everybody said, 'No housing. Rooftops, rooftops, you must have rooftops."

McGhee said he hopes the new housing will change minds. He also says the ongoing success of an Eckerd and Hollywood Video opened several years ago along NE 23 is proof that the conventional thinking shouldn't necessarily apply to northeast Oklahoma City.

"People here still have to eat," McGhee said. "And people here are loyal. When merchants move in and provide quality service, quality products at a reasonable price, the loyalty is there."

Arnelious Crenshaw Jr., a minister at Northeast Church of Christ, said the new JFK housing will have the same effect MAPS is having on downtown.

"This is the sort of project that in 10 years will have people saying the same things they are now about the impact of MAPS on downtown," Crenshaw said. "Bringing these rooftops in will have a major stimulus on northeast Oklahoma City."

Neighborhood revival: Urban renewal takes hold
Builders revitalizing former slum area

By Steve Lackmeyer
Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 21, 2004
Edition: City, Section: METRO V, Page 17A
Linked Objects: (Click image for details)

In the John F. Kennedy neighborhood in near northeast Oklahoma City, residents aren’t just dreaming — they’re building up what was once one of the city’s worst slums.

Just six months after moving into their new home at NE 7 and Bath Court, Wayne Linzy and his wife, Lisa, are getting two new neighbors.

Both new houses will be as big or bigger than the $130,000, 1,800-square-foot home built by Linzy — even though the U.S. Census Bureau shows poverty in the neighborhood near 39 percent.

When city officials launched an urban renewal program 40 years ago, they targeted three areas of town: the site of the OU Medical Center, downtown and the John F. Kennedy neighborhood.

The city spent $50 million in 15 years removing hundreds of homes in the neighborhood, hoping to create a model inner-city community one mile east of downtown. It never happened.

The neighborhood today is a hodgepodge of low- to moderate-income homes built between the late 1960s and early 1980s, and many empty lots.

Now the Linzys and others have revived the dream.

Along Bath Circle, a block south of the Linzy home, developers associated with Northeast Church of Christ are about to apply for building permits for four homes they say will complement what is being built along Bath Court.

None of this surprises Linzy, who bought his property from the Urban Renewal Authority and invested his money despite the lack of development in the area for more than 20 years.

“Developers are not building up this area ... they thought it was blighted, but it’s not,” he said. “There was never the idea for a developer to come through and build housing to the standard people are demanding today.”

Changing such perceptions is the goal of Northeast Church of Christ, which formed Central Urban Development Inc. to build 30 homes in the John F. Kennedy neighborhood in the next couple of years.

“We’re an inner-city church, and we want to be sensitive to the needs of the community,” minister Arnelious Crenshaw said.

Crenshaw said the need for housing in the predominantly black northeast part of town was obvious. He said a recent report showed Oklahoma was one of only three states in the last census that saw home ownership drop among blacks.

“To be visionary, you have to envision what you want this community to look like,” Crenshaw said. “Fold that back over against what is going on presently, and that helps you decide what you want to concentrate on.”

James Williams, a church member and an architect with the development group, said the new homes are designed with garages facing away from the street with the front of the homes interacting more with the community — a throwback to the original homes removed by Urban Renewal.

“We’re emphasizing the importance of the individual, not the car,” Williams said. “We want to bring the community back.”

The new houses, expected to be complete by summer, will be priced beginning in the low $80,000’s — but with special financing arranged by Commercial Federal banker Greg McGhee, payments will average $550 a month.

“We’ll be providing first-time home buyer assistance, down-payment assistance, help for people who are credit-challenged,” McGhee said. “We’ll be taking advantage of everything in traditional and nontraditional finance.”

The developers also hope to learn from Wayne Linzy — the area’s first urban pioneer. Building in the neighborhood has not been easy for him, a state trooper.

He said that despite assurances by Urban Renewal officials, gas lines and other utilities were not rebuilt in his area when the agency replatted it about 30 years ago.

Because the Linzys are the first to have an address on Bath Court, they’ve discovered the U.S. Postal Service still thinks the street is Bath Avenue — the original name before the area was cleared of homes and streets were realigned by Urban Renewal.

Williams and Crenshaw said their work, combined with the effort of individuals like the Linzys, will spark a northeast Oklahoma City revival.

“We’re starting with four houses,” Crenshaw said. “And if they do well, there is potential for 30 houses. And if that happens, now you’ve turned a whole community around.”
Urban reawakening: Neighbors rebuild community
Kennedy addition undergoes recovery

By Steve Lackmeyer
Staff Writer
Monday, September 6, 2004
Edition: City, Section: NEWS, Page 6A
Linked Objects: (Click image for details)
After languishing as one of Oklahoma City’s poorest neighborhoods, residents in the John F. Kennedy addition are about to celebrate a revival of their community.

In the last year, more than a dozen new homes have been built with construction about to start on even more residences and a NBA size basketball court. For sponsors of a Labor Day community cookout, this is just the start of a neighborhood renaissance.

“The closest we saw to this type of activity here was in 1983, when we had a housing boom turn into a housing bust,” said James Williams, vice president of development for Central Urban Development Inc.

“But back then, we didn’t have as diversified a group of developers,” Williams said. “Now you have faith-based organizations, private owners, and a straight market business entrepreneur.”

This assortment of redevelopers came about by accident.

For more than 20 years, the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority found itself with block after block of empty lots cleared of slum housing in the early 1970s. Talks began a few years ago with a single developer interested in building 80 homes.

But, when the agency issued requests for development proposals, Central Urban Development and three other smaller builders offered to take on more limited projects. Bill Eudy, Urban Renewal’s real estate administrator, said he thinks the addition benefits more from multiple developers.

Some of the homes are more than 2,000 square feet, and match housing being built in upscale suburbs. The homes being built by Central Urban Developers, meanwhile, are 1,200- to 1,500-square-foot homes that have porches prominently facing the street, with garages behind the houses.

All of the homes being built in conjunction with Urban Renewal include a minimum of three bedrooms, two bathrooms and two-car garages.

Two groups are hoping to add new community magnets to spark more housing construction.

Antioch Institutional Baptist Church, 507 N Bath — a block away from where a half-dozen new homes are being built — recently completed an agreement with the Urban Renewal Authority to build a basketball court.

Skyline Urban Development, meanwhile, is awaiting a survey by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to learn whether the old Truman Elementary, 1324 N Kelham, can be salvaged.

David Hornbeek, an architect who oversaw conversion of the old Riverside school into a community center, said he wants to see a similar conversion with Truman Elementary — which was closed 17 years ago.

The elementary was one of the city’s all-black schools before “separate but equal” laws were struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We don’t want to tear it down,” Hornbeek said. “In terms of context and place in the community, we need to save it. You can’t replace the history and impact that icon has.”

Chester Phyffer, senior pastor at Christ United Methodist Church, said he discovered the depth of the community’s ties to the property during a presentation of the proposed renovation to directors of the Chicago Community Loan Fund.

“I noticed one man was crying,” Phyffer said. “He said his mother last taught at that school. And the last time he talked to his mother, she asked how that school was doing. To her, that school was that community.”

Skyline Urban Development has an agreement with Urban Renewal to build housing near the school, and construction is set to start this fall.

Most of the developers building homes in the addition also credit renewed interest in the area to progress in nearby Bricktown and expansion of the Oklahoma Health Center. Ultimately, the economics finally worked to the neighborhood’s favor, Hornbeek said.

“A typical developer looks at where he can go and make the most money for the least amount of work,” Hornbeek said. “Because this area, this community, has been neglected for so long, there is a pent-up demand that has created a viable market you can’t ignore any more.”

John F. Kennedy Neighborhood Association President Omega, who uses only one name, said he was skeptical when the city launched MAPS and then the MAPS for Kids makeover of area schools.

“They didn’t just pinpoint one thing like Bricktown or the Myriad (convention center) — they ended up helping the entire city,” Omega said.

Omega said he never envisioned more housing coming into the addition when he bought his 1970s-era home in 1990. He said he could have bought a bigger home in the suburbs — but found the neighborhood simply felt like home.

“We know one another here,” Omega said. “It’s more of a family setting. Now we’re going to have some fine new houses. And we’re going to stay right where we are.”

03-23-2011, 03:47 AM
Spartan, if you went to a real school you would know that Douglas resembles some of the better college campuses around. MACU on Broadway and OCCC on the southside.

Hmm, I thought MACU was on South Portland and 119th. That just shows how much I know about colleges I guess..

Larry OKC
03-23-2011, 03:57 AM
You are both sort of right (from MACU website) copied/pasted, the typo is NOT my doing...LOL)

Main OKC Campus
3500 SW 119th Street
Oklahoma City • OK • 73170

North OKC Loation (sic)
11600 N Broadway Ext. Service Road
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73114

03-23-2011, 05:10 AM
Oh yeah. I forgot about their super nice new northside campus. What is it, 1 floor in a new office building? Wow, they're getting pretty big.

07-27-2012, 09:38 PM
While browsing real estate, I saw two new homes are under construction here now.

07-28-2012, 01:55 PM
I took some photos of the Fair Grounds project after chatting with the architect. I'll post them here shortly..

Larry OKC
07-30-2012, 10:22 AM
Until recently (it was an archived article), I had never heard of the JFK neighborhood. Does it still exist under that name, is it "branded" as such??

07-30-2012, 12:48 PM
It's a very historic neighborhood so it had to be re-branded at some point after the presidency of JFK. Most of the historic area was shotgun homes, which have been redeveloped over en masse with new suburban-style housing and a few more interesting projects. They are all market-rate developments, so the important takeaway is that JFK is an injection of nice housing in the heart of NE OKC that seeks to get nice, afro-american families back into the eastside and stem the tide of abandonment.

I believe the architect, James Williams, plans to take it into a more urban direction, and I know he himself laments having to add suburban features onto homes to get families to move back in. His housing project at 7th/MLK was urban brownstones with some interesting bright colors and more sidewalk-oriented. I believe they plan on building retail now that they have a good mass of rooftops. You should drive through the JFK area sometime, and hit up NE23rd as well, and you'll be surprised at how far its come and the potential that still lies ahead.

07-30-2012, 10:34 PM
Until recently (it was an archived article), I had never heard of the JFK neighborhood. Does it still exist under that name, is it "branded" as such??