View Full Version : Biggest Changes in OKC in 25 years



bucktalk
01-10-2019, 10:19 AM
I applaud the huge changes in OKC in the past 25 years or so. When Pete uploads pics he's graciously provided of new buildings or other improvements it's pretty amazing to see all the improvements. But at the same time there are a few areas of both physical and social needs that need improved.

I wonder:
1. What do you see as some of the major improvements?
2. What areas (physical or social) that still need improved?

jonny d
01-10-2019, 10:30 AM
I applaud the huge changes in OKC in the past 25 years or so. When Pete uploads pics he's graciously provided of new buildings or other improvements it's pretty amazing to see all the improvements. But at the same time there are a few areas of both physical and social needs that need improved.

I wonder:
1. What do you see as some of the major improvements?
2. What areas (physical or social) that still need improved?

For the Negative Nancies:
1) Nothing
2) Everything

JK! I think a statewide shift in education priorities will help OKC immensely (could lead to more relocations here). Also, continued transportation improvements will help, as well (trying to be proactive, rather than reactive).

stlokc
01-10-2019, 12:15 PM
What OKC needs more than anything in the next 25 years is to diversify its economy.

Many people on this thread will rightfully point to the fact that most people in OKC are not employed by oil/gas firms and that there are examples of manufacturing, health care and the like that drive large parts of the economy. Not to mention government. Fair enough.

But there WILL be a time in my lifetime (I am 44 years old) when oil and gas will no longer be the primary fuel for transportation purposes. It will either run out (and I know that date has been pushed out because of fracking etc. but it is coming eventually) or will be ungodly expensive.

So, two things:
OKC needs many more small and large companies of all types whose business model does not rely on oil and that are headquartered in the metro area so that the decisions and money stay in the metro area; and,

The way that OKC currently sprawls will be unsustainable if it costs $10 a gallon to drive from here to there. When this happens, the city (and many others in America) will start to move towards a European pattern of development, where the money is in the center, and the slums are on the outskirts.

To mitigate that, and I know they're already trying, we've got to develop clusters of knowledge and capital in different kinds of industries. And become more serious about controlling the sprawl of the city outwards. Develop effective mass transit while there is still time and consider some kind of urban growth boundary. While you're at it, deannex everything east of I-35.

bchris02
01-10-2019, 01:35 PM
Was actually just thinking about this when reading the "Population Growth in OKC" thread. I'm just going to consider the past six years since I've been back in OKC and since I've followed development here.



1. What do you see as some of the major improvements?

1) The streetcar
2) First National Center/Spaghetti Warehouse/Tower Theater restoration
3) Revitalization of urban districts, specifically Midtown, Uptown, and the Plaza
4) 18th and Classen Homeland remodel
5) Improved streetscapes along Western Ave and along 23rd St
6) Modern liquor laws
7) Medical marijuana legalization



2. What areas (physical or social) that still need improved?

1) Fix Lower Bricktown. There was never an excuse for that monstrosity to be approved in the 2000s and it fuels old stereotypes about OKC.
2) More sidewalks, especially in the urban core. It's amazing how spotty sidewalk coverage still is once you get north of 23rd Street.
3) More modern/higher quality suburban development standards. Chisholm Creek is a great start but OKC's suburbs for the most part are still stuck in the 1980s.
4) Street beautification. OKC has too many streets in near third-world condition, even in nice parts of town.
5) A true downtown grocery store; preferably an urban Target.
6) An ordinance to prevent something like the Stage Center Tower bait-and-switch from ever happening again
7) Continued infill to connect Midtown with the CBD

stlokc
01-10-2019, 02:01 PM
BChris...your beautification point really hits a nerve with me. You are so right.

I thought about this when I came home for Thanksgiving. My wife was with me and she is not from OKC originally. When driving around town, I tried to see things through her eyes and think about them in comparison to St. Louis. Well, for starters, there is much more growth in OKC so that is very appealing. New things being built and a lively downtown. There's very much to like from that point of view. And those are really the BIG things so don't get me wrong in what I'm about to say.

But what I don't think I had ever really considered until now is just how ... "shabby" ...a lot of things look in OKC. I'm talking about driving down a street like May Avenue from 63rd to Memorial. Very little landscaping. Crumbling curbs. No real aesthetic standards as far as types of signage or building material requirements. Fences that are falling apart and neighborhoods that don't require fences that look alike. Parking lots that are badly patched. Wiring strung everywhere. These are quality of life aspects that you don't really notice until you've lived somewhere else.

It's not rocket science to have plantings in medians and trees against bridge abutments on highways. Shopping centers with nice signage, flower beds and sprinkler systems. Retail signs that are 5-feet tall instead of 30-feet tall. I know people are going to say ..."Oklahoma: the weather doesn't let you do those types of things." Wrong. There are beautiful examples of what I am talking about in the older and - I'm sorry to have to say - wealthier parts of town. Spring Creek in Edmond nails it. Why doesn't Memorial Road - all the way along it - have that level of care and investment? It would actually be good for property values. I don't know what OKC can "require" in this realm but I would love to see it happen somehow.

poe
01-10-2019, 06:52 PM
A few things that I see as major improvements are the reconstruction and realignment of I-40, the Thunder, improved food and art scenes, improvements to the airport, and a focus towards making the quality of life better in the area. I think Oklahoma City is beginning to have an identity of its own, which in turn will help its citizens become more proud of the city in which they live. Not that long ago, folks could have been somewhat embarrassed to tell others they were from Oklahoma City; I think that mentality is changing and for the better. The Oklahoma resilience that is often quoted after tragic events has also helped the city mold into what it is today.

There's still work to be done - education, streets and roadways, healthcare, among other things, but I think the focus is starting to turn around, even at the state level. These changes may not happen overnight, but I tend to think slow and steady wins the race.

On a side note, I really wish there would have been a proactive approach with the roads around Costco. That place is going to be a nightmare when it opens!

hoya
01-11-2019, 08:09 AM
BChris...your beautification point really hits a nerve with me. You are so right.

I thought about this when I came home for Thanksgiving. My wife was with me and she is not from OKC originally. When driving around town, I tried to see things through her eyes and think about them in comparison to St. Louis. Well, for starters, there is much more growth in OKC so that is very appealing. New things being built and a lively downtown. There's very much to like from that point of view. And those are really the BIG things so don't get me wrong in what I'm about to say.

But what I don't think I had ever really considered until now is just how ... "shabby" ...a lot of things look in OKC. I'm talking about driving down a street like May Avenue from 63rd to Memorial. Very little landscaping. Crumbling curbs. No real aesthetic standards as far as types of signage or building material requirements. Fences that are falling apart and neighborhoods that don't require fences that look alike. Parking lots that are badly patched. Wiring strung everywhere. These are quality of life aspects that you don't really notice until you've lived somewhere else.

It's not rocket science to have plantings in medians and trees against bridge abutments on highways. Shopping centers with nice signage, flower beds and sprinkler systems. Retail signs that are 5-feet tall instead of 30-feet tall. I know people are going to say ..."Oklahoma: the weather doesn't let you do those types of things." Wrong. There are beautiful examples of what I am talking about in the older and - I'm sorry to have to say - wealthier parts of town. Spring Creek in Edmond nails it. Why doesn't Memorial Road - all the way along it - have that level of care and investment? It would actually be good for property values. I don't know what OKC can "require" in this realm but I would love to see it happen somehow.

I agree that parts of OKC look pretty run down, but... I mean, you do live in St Louis, right? Some parts of that city look like Somalia on the Mississippi. :)

The "problem" in OKC is that our nice parts of town are interspersed with our not-so-nice parts of town. The Wheeler District with its brand new half million dollar homes is about a quarter mile from Will Rogers Courts. The Governor's Mansion is within walking distance of Bobo's Chicken. This results in there being a general shabbiness throughout the city, but you also don't have extreme concentrations of poverty.

I wouldn't mind MAPS 4 having a lot of beautification projects, but I don't think they should include road work or anything along highways. That seems like a recipe for some other idiot government agency to come along and tear it out next time they do any work in the area. Maybe we need some ordinances requiring a certain amount of the streets budget go towards beautification.

Anonymous.
01-11-2019, 08:42 AM
In order for us to improve in the next 25 years. We need to increase focus on education, this is so extremely important for high paying jobs and company relocation. We need to keep young professionals here in the city and state. I am witness of dozens of my peers who are graduating with impressive degrees and many times multiple degrees (that they have earned here) and their first plan of action is to look elsewhere for jobs.

We must create a stronger sense of pride here in OKC, to develop a desire to live and work here. We are still a stepping stone for many young people who can and will make a difference in the world. We need to surround these young people with opportunities and entertainment. I know there is a lot of users on here who poke fun at "trendy" cities, but it doesn't change the fact that there are thousands of well-educated young professionals flocking to these cities - where they are making and spending big money.

Plutonic Panda
01-11-2019, 09:09 AM
I agree that parts of OKC look pretty run down, but... I mean, you do live in St Louis, right? Some parts of that city look like Somalia on the Mississippi. :)

The "problem" in OKC is that our nice parts of town are interspersed with our not-so-nice parts of town. The Wheeler District with its brand new half million dollar homes is about a quarter mile from Will Rogers Courts. The Governor's Mansion is within walking distance of Bobo's Chicken. This results in there being a general shabbiness throughout the city, but you also don't have extreme concentrations of poverty.

I wouldn't mind MAPS 4 having a lot of beautification projects, but I don't think they should include road work or anything along highways. That seems like a recipe for some other idiot government agency to come along and tear it out next time they do any work in the area. Maybe we need some ordinances requiring a certain amount of the streets budget go towards beautification.
I don’t like St. Louis for a very stupid reason and I won’t share it here, but there are parts of that city that are incredible and beyond what OKC could hope for regardless of how much bad areas it has. You should look at some of the employers and developments they have. They also have White Castle.

Come here to LA and I’ll give you a personal tour that could make Somalia or Haiti look like an attractive retirement option.

Plutonic Panda
01-11-2019, 09:16 AM
Improvements:

Better mass transit
Better recreation
Better education
Better urban fabric and vibrancy
Better big city feel
Better freeways

What needs to be improved:

Surface streets
Bike routes and paths
Street lighting
Radio stations
Local media and investigative reporting
High end shopping options(I’m not asking for a Barney’s or Bergdorf Goodman but damn at least build a Nordstrom or Nieman Marcus)
Nightlife and 24 hour diners
Slow drivers(people drive too slow in OKC and the state)
City wide light rail
More flight options
Better development and architecture standards(this has been improved but overall, especially in the suburbs, there is much more room for improvement)
Better fairgrounds(OKC has reversed course on this one)

jerrywall
01-11-2019, 09:27 AM
"They also have White Castle."

Yankee Burgers. This is Krystal Country. :)

stlokc
01-11-2019, 09:33 AM
Hoya...
I hear you. St. Louis does have a lot of run down areas, particularly in the city proper where there has been massive deindustrialization and white flight. Somalia? Eh, LOL but I'll give you points for your wordsmithing. And Plutonic Panda, you're also right. There is beautiful urbanism and architectural grandeur and by function of OKC's age it will never have that. St. Louis features both extremes in a way that OKC does not.

And Hoya, you're also right that the "nice" and "not so nice" areas in OKC are interspersed and that's part of the problem. But I'm referring to a general shabbiness that is over and above that. To use my example from earlier, there is no reason that May Avenue, going from the edge of Nichols Hills to Northpark Mall to Quail Creek should be ugly and borderline run down looking, yet it is. Memorial Road is a fairly new creation and it was "born ugly." I just think there's a lack of attention to detail or a lack of community standards that are causing this problem. It is not written in the Bible, the Talmud or the Constitution that suburbs have to be shabby. Owing to the point of this thread, I'm not sure it rises to a MAPS-level problem, but it's something that's fixable and I wish it were fixed.

Plutonic Panda
01-11-2019, 09:38 AM
St. Louis just seems primed to become the next great city if they play their cards right and that is dependent upon a revival of the Rust Belt which I can see happening especially if climate change becomes a serious issue. So many beautiful and historic areas it puts Kansas City to shame.

Plutonic Panda
01-11-2019, 09:40 AM
"They also have White Castle."

Yankee Burgers. This is Krystal Country. :)


To this day I still haven’t tried them. But out in the west, we have our little slice of yankee burgers in fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada. ;)

bchris02
01-11-2019, 12:13 PM
^^^

In regards to beautification, OKC's suburbs such as Edmond, Norman, and Nichols Hills are already headed in the right direction. You're starting to see more divided boulevards, ornamental lights, landscaping, sidewalks, better quality construction, etc. For instance, when driving on NW 150th/NW 15th, you can see a big difference once you cross into Edmond city limits from OKC. OKC proper still has not caught on to this outside of specific (and very limited) neighborhoods.

In my opinion, I think the general shabbiness of suburban OKC gives people a poor first impression of the city. It seems like a very small gripe but it's especially noticeable if you've lived in or spent significant time in other cities.

Changing topics, another change I'd really like to see in OKC is better use of the Bricktown Canal. This is a problem on both ends but for different reasons. It's has been talked about many times on OKCTalk but it's hard to believe we are approaching the 20th anniversary of the opening of the canal and so little has actually changed and/or been developed on the canal over the course of two decades.

Plutonic Panda
01-11-2019, 12:28 PM
^^^ regarding the canal you are completely right. As I have started to travel more and experience other cities, I find the canal in OKC extremely boring and depressing mainly due to the potential it could have.

The city really ought to look at a strategic plan to increase vibrancy along the canal and how it can be improved. I think another big part of it is the portion in lower Bricktown. They should look at straightening it and redevelopment of the buildings alongside it.

One idea I’ve had is hollowing out the portion below the entrance to Harkins theatre and building an arcade or entertainment complex such as D&B or Main Event. They could also build another entrance to the movie theatre itself with a stand alone box office along the canal.

I will admit I haven’t been on the canal in the past year or so, but it sure does seem dead more days than not from my past experience.

Nick
01-12-2019, 10:25 AM
I think one of the improvements of the last 25 years is an improved sense of pride in OKC. I've seen countless friends and family members leave, but many have returned to be a part of the renaissance. That's no small feat.

I think one of the opportunities for improvement is beautification. This city can still be ugly as hell at times and in places and it desperately needs to improve in this facet.

bucktalk
01-12-2019, 05:05 PM
To take time to consider all the changes in OKC in the past 25 years will present multiple areas of change. If I were to narrow the field to just a few, this is what I come up with:
Improved:
1. Overall pride in OKC.
Sure we have a long way to go but if you consider the depth of city pride 25 years ago compared to today it's pretty deep. This reality hit me hard when I attended my first Thunder game. For the first time I felt as though I was a part of something that made you rally together in support. Of all the puzzle pieces which are catalyst to bring a sense of pride I believe having an NBA team is a huge part.

Still needs to be improved:
2. Pride that propels us forward.
We still need a truck load of the kind of pride which propels us to have a healthy, functioning state government, education as a priority without teachers having to walk-out to get our attention, city beautification for not only downtown but even outlying communities who would take pride in their surroundings.

Yes, I'm grateful we've come a long way. But let's be honest enough to acknowledge we have a long way to go AND we won't give up. The ending of MAPS projects and other improvements doesn't mean we stop. No! Instead those things should propel us forward to accomplish even more. The degree in which we impact the next 25 years depends on how we look ahead while using the past accomplishments to motivate us.