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Thread: Why no retail in Bricktown?

  1. #1

    Default Why no retail in Bricktown?

    I lived here for years and still cant understand why there is no retail in brick town. I know there are some like Lit, candy, etc. and bass pro, but no other chains or even larger local retailers. Is is because of low foot traffic or do the owners want to much for the leases?

  2. Default Re: Why no retail in Bricktown?

    LIT actually closed. But there is an influx of retail coming soon with the marketplace.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Why no retail in Bricktown?

    Because it has been positioned as an "entertainment" district. To reposition it will take promotion over time. Most small retailers can't afford to reposition the area in the public's mind, and the Bricktown Assn. hasn't been willing to develop a clear position within the public. It takes investment and vision to do that and they have been willing to let the public decide...so they do based on their own experiences. Since the restaurants are what the destination is, that's what they currently think.

    Strong leadership and vision is what is needed....plus cooperation and commitment.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Why no retail in Bricktown?

    Rover, I think this is proof that you aren't the anonymous big player you like us to think you are, especially as you attack other leadership that generally everyone else recognizes as being a vital component of Bricktown's recent success. Bricktown has had excellent leadership over the last two years or so under Jim Cowan who has done a ton for the district. I used to be able to walk through Bricktown and literally see nobody there if it wasn't a Friday evening, but that's not the case anymore. All day long the district is busy, full of people. I get the real sense that Bricktown is slowly maturing before our eyes, and we knew it would do that or die. I think it's going to make it, rather than what happened to the West End (which is seeing a rebirth, however).

    Retail is a matter of supporting what we got. I was in the Red Dirt Emporium yesterday and it was packed. Bought some jam. The marketplace will also be packed I imagine..those guys know what they're doing. Walked down to the Bricktown Candy Co and they were also doing good business, and I was impressed with their collection of soda pops and got some Sioux City Birch Beer. I was disappointed they didn't have Leninade but I've only been able to find that at Pops. There is retail in Bricktown and it's doing well, and keep in mind this was all on a Saturday around 2 pm.

    I do think we need to get some national brands in Bricktown just for the purpose of reinforcing the retail offerings. If a GAP, a Walgreens, and Apple Store came in (your typical downtown retail staples) I think it would be a major benefit to the local business owners. In order for this to happen I think some developer is going to have to be brave enough to make a retail destination happen (and that's difficult to come across because Bricktown brings out the shortsightedness and greediness in everyone involved it seems). It's not going to come about as a part of some marketing campaign or anything like that. The Bricktown Association can only make so much happen.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Why no retail in Bricktown?

    Oddly enough, there are large numbers who appear to find shopping entertaining. I'm not one of them, but I see them out and about frequently enough. With all that empty space, it's a shame more retailers and bldg. owners can't find a way to make it work for both.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Why no retail in Bricktown?

    I think we would need to have an area where retail could be concentrated, and then it would have to be marketed as such. We don't have enough visitors to support significant retail stores in downtown OKC. The majority of people in Bricktown currently are there at night, especially on weekends. So, you would need to appeal to drive-up visitors from around the city and/or state. We don't yet have a streetcar to get people around downtown easily, and most shoppers like to move easily from shop to shop, hence the popularity of shopping centers. I'm simply not sure where in Bricktown we have enough open space to allow multiple retailers to cluster. Perhaps back on Main Street where there's also more easily accessible parking would be a good location. But again, the people who own those unrenovated buildings would have to work together and market them to retailers. It could work, but it would take vision on their part.

    Barring that, I actually think the best idea is to puchase land in Core to Shore and build a lifestyle center, if you could locate it close to a proposed streetcar line.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Why no retail in Bricktown?

    What about the Bricktown Events Center parking lot and the former Steel Yards project? I see a lot of room for expansion there. It is unfortunate how Lower Bricktown has failed, and now we're seeing LiT and Firefly's spot being filled with more restaurants..more of the same.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Why no retail in Bricktown?

    Quote Originally Posted by Spartan View Post
    What about the Bricktown Events Center parking lot and the former Steel Yards project? I see a lot of room for expansion there. It is unfortunate how Lower Bricktown has failed, and now we're seeing LiT and Firefly's spot being filled with more restaurants..more of the same.
    That would definitely work if you wanted new construction. There's plenty of room for an outdoor shopping center at the Steelyards. But, if you couldn't get a developer to spring for a shopping center downtown, I do think you might be able to make a little shopping area on main for local retailers that would be appealing to shoppers. As I said, though, you'd have to market it simultaneously to multiple retailers to get it to fly. One store way back there would die on the vine, but if you had a bunch, especially with a store with big appeal like an Urban Outfitters, it could be very appealing. Lit and Fireflys problems were similar......not enough contiguous shopping to make it a destination for shoppers.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Why no retail in Bricktown?

    I didn't know Firefly closed...Is Envy Collections still open?

  10. #10

    Default Re: Why no retail in Bricktown?

    Yes, and may move across the tracks..maybe.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Why no retail in Bricktown?

    LOL. I never have claimed to be an anonymous big player. Just have the experience I have...that is all. Don't know if that is big or small, smart or dumb. I, like everyone elso on this board am just stating opinions which might cause someone to think and hopefully help make the process better for all of OKC. For referrence, I spent 10 years as a retail marketing consultant and supplier of services. I have spent 20 years in supplying core products to commercial contractors world-wide. I have been involved in 100's of major projects including many of the largest in the world. However, I am not an urban planner, an architect or an engineer.

    I certainly didn't intend to disrespect Cowan or anyone else. But other than Bass Pro, the area hasn't seemed to promote or encourage retail, and even that was criticized by many. The public seems to perceive the area as an entertainment area (lots of bars and restaurant) and not as a retail area. Bass is a very targeted retail which is almost a destination in and of itself and many go their as "entertainment. There are no department stores, specialty stores, etc. needed to draw general shoppers. The smaller retailers are scattered and can't draw any synergy from each other. I don't think the building owners have understood what retailers want or need. (No disrespect, I just think they are restauranteurs and property owners and not retail oriented).

    The real opportunity for retail was the development east of the ballpark that Funk wanted to do. It actually could have worked as a quasi-urban center with retail and residential. It would have enabled window-shopping and drawn people down with the express interest of shopping. You'd be amazed at what a couple of stores like Tommy Bahama's, Sur La Table, etc. would do to draw people and to re-position the area as a shopping area AND entertainment district.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Why no retail in Bricktown?

    Alright Rover, I'll withdraw my criticism of you and we'll just agree to disagree on the effectiveness of Bricktown leadership. I definitely agree with you on Funk's Bricktown Village proposal. Unfortunately Mayor Mick killed that politically. Bob Funk is (well, used to be) someone who made things happen, usually. He no longer has the resources he did at the time of his Bricktown proposal due to his divorce, so that's a lost opportunity. It will be interesting to see if anyone else will step up to the plate and offer to make some kind of destination happen. I hope the city doesn't kill it again..

  13. #13

    Default Re: Why no retail in Bricktown?

    Quote Originally Posted by Spartan View Post
    I definitely agree with you on Funk's Bricktown Village proposal. Unfortunately Mayor Mick killed that politically. Bob Funk is (well, used to be) someone who made things happen, usually. He no longer has the resources he did at the time of his Bricktown proposal due to his divorce, so that's a lost opportunity..
    So does anyone really know why the mayor and/or others were so opposed to this concept? I thought maybe there was a plan for that site that would be revealed in MAPS3 but obviously not. Of course Funk's plan might have been one of those grand plans that was not to be and we would have been disapponted again.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Why no retail in Bricktown?

    No, City Hall is still burned over a deal he cut with the RedHawks (I think on the lease of the Brick, but I could be wrong) and Bob Funk was once popular among city leaders but since being real involved with the Chamber has fallen from grace, so to speak. Funk's reputation has sort of been..in a funk. Mayor Mick could care less about Bricktown unless a pariah he dislikes is about to have a project that will likely be successful. The project wouldn't have happened anyway because Funk was cheating on his wife who would have found out eventually, and he would have lost all his resources not long after breaking ground but nonetheless, that doesn't excuse the part City Hall played in making sure that land remains parking forever.

    edit: Apparently it was actually the Blazers lease. Thanks to the person who corrected me.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Why no retail in Bricktown?

    The main problem with Bricktown as a shopping distirct is this - there are too many owners. Imagine if each store space in Penn Square Mall was owned by a different person. It would be a total disaster. You would have people trying to lure luxury retailers, some people opening 3rd party booths, and others keeping their space vacant while they try holding out for a higher selling price.

    The only way Bricktown is going to work as a shopping district is if every owner turns their operation over to single company that can market the entire district to create destination retail. Otherwise, it is going to take 5,000 to 10,000 people living in Bricktown to keep retail going.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Why no retail in Bricktown?

    I agree. There are too many interests and most appear to be sitting back to maximize their own situation. There appears to be no concerted effort to create a shopping area. It appears that it is just owners waiting to lease to the first restaurant that will locate in their building and hope they can rent the rest. There has been no adaptation of buildings to make street level window shopping. For instance, even the shop at the Centenial (LIT) was set back so far from the street there was no visibility and no interest. Along the main streets in Bricktown there are no retail shops or windows showing merchandise. If you want it to be a shopping district then it needs to adapt and not try to force retail into strange areas.

    And so Spartan, if there has been this concerted effort and it has failed, please update me.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Why no retail in Bricktown?

    Quote Originally Posted by Spartan View Post
    Rover, I think this is proof that you aren't the anonymous big player you like us to think you are, especially as you attack other leadership that generally everyone else recognizes as being a vital component of Bricktown's recent success. Bricktown has had excellent leadership over the last two years or so under Jim Cowan who has done a ton for the district. I used to be able to walk through Bricktown and literally see nobody there if it wasn't a Friday evening, but that's not the case anymore. All day long the district is busy, full of people. I get the real sense that Bricktown is slowly maturing before our eyes, and we knew it would do that or die. I think it's going to make it, rather than what happened to the West End (which is seeing a rebirth, however).

    Retail is a matter of supporting what we got. I was in the Red Dirt Emporium yesterday and it was packed. Bought some jam. The marketplace will also be packed I imagine..those guys know what they're doing. Walked down to the Bricktown Candy Co and they were also doing good business, and I was impressed with their collection of soda pops and got some Sioux City Birch Beer. I was disappointed they didn't have Leninade but I've only been able to find that at Pops. There is retail in Bricktown and it's doing well, and keep in mind this was all on a Saturday around 2 pm.

    I do think we need to get some national brands in Bricktown just for the purpose of reinforcing the retail offerings. If a GAP, a Walgreens, and Apple Store came in (your typical downtown retail staples) I think it would be a major benefit to the local business owners. In order for this to happen I think some developer is going to have to be brave enough to make a retail destination happen (and that's difficult to come across because Bricktown brings out the shortsightedness and greediness in everyone involved it seems). It's not going to come about as a part of some marketing campaign or anything like that. The Bricktown Association can only make so much happen.
    Be careful, Spartan, you're going to lose your negativity reputation.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Why no retail in Bricktown?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rover View Post
    I agree. There are too many interests and most appear to be sitting back to maximize their own situation. There appears to be no concerted effort to create a shopping area. It appears that it is just owners waiting to lease to the first restaurant that will locate in their building and hope they can rent the rest. There has been no adaptation of buildings to make street level window shopping. For instance, even the shop at the Centenial (LIT) was set back so far from the street there was no visibility and no interest. Along the main streets in Bricktown there are no retail shops or windows showing merchandise. If you want it to be a shopping district then it needs to adapt and not try to force retail into strange areas.

    And so Spartan, if there has been this concerted effort and it has failed, please update me.
    Interesting point about the setback for Lower Bricktown properties directly on Reno.

    As for any concerted retail effort there is no comprehensive downtown retail strategy that has been released. I just got finished writing out a long-winded report of recommendations made in a 2003 Strategic Action Plan that were never implemented.. in numerous different places it suggests retail-specific downtown masterplans, a comprehensive retail strategy, etc. No such efforts have been made.

    The action plan is here: http://www.okc.gov/planning/downtown/downtown2010.pdf
    The blog post is here: A Downtown ontheRange: In the year 2010..

  19. #19

    Default Re: Why no retail in Bricktown?

    Great blog. Lots of food for thought there. This really stuck out for me:

    So what more can we do to make developers more successful (basically do their job for them)? And yes, the city does sometimes need to do what developers should do already, just because we need them to be successful for downtown to be successful, as hard as it may be to make some of these people successful.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Why no retail in Bricktown?

    Quote Originally Posted by betts View Post
    So does anyone really know why the mayor and/or others were so opposed to this concept? I thought maybe there was a plan for that site that would be revealed in MAPS3 but obviously not. Of course Funk's plan might have been one of those grand plans that was not to be and we would have been disapponted again.
    Yes, because Mayor Micky wanted to see if the possibility was there to see if it could be expanded as a multi-use stadium to include soccer. The surveys were done and deemed it wouldn't be a good use of space and ruin the dynamics of the stadium. We can thank Mayor Mick on this one. There are old articles and threads about it, here is one.

    http://www.okctalk.com/okc-metro-are...bricktown.html

  21. #21

    Default Re: Why no retail in Bricktown?

    Oh I forgot about that. I had just filed that under half-cooked pot dreams. Mayor Mick will truly pursue any expensive project that he thinks will fascinate the public, even (especially) if in reality it's a horrible idea.

  22. #22

    Default Re: Why no retail in Bricktown?

    cant understand why there is no retail in brick town.
    It hasn't been developed for retail. You can't really have a smattering of storefronts spread out across the district with lease rates like they want and expect retailers to be excited about it. Lower rates or a more concentrated retail development will be needed before there is any growth in interest from retailers.

  23. #23

    Default Re: Why no retail in Bricktown?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kerry View Post
    The main problem with Bricktown as a shopping distirct is this - there are too many owners. Imagine if each store space in Penn Square Mall was owned by a different person. It would be a total disaster. You would have people trying to lure luxury retailers, some people opening 3rd party booths, and others keeping their space vacant while they try holding out for a higher selling price.

    The only way Bricktown is going to work as a shopping district is if every owner turns their operation over to single company that can market the entire district to create destination retail. Otherwise, it is going to take 5,000 to 10,000 people living in Bricktown to keep retail going.
    You nailed it with this point! I have said this many times before too. I like the Penn Square analogy that is a perfect explanation of Bricktowns retail problems.

    Imagine if all or even the majority of bricktown property owners went in together and all had the same leasing agent.They could also have an agreement on lease rates. Maybe they have tried this before I don't know. Seems to simple not to be a huge sucess.

  24. #24

    Default Re: Why no retail in Bricktown?

    This is far afield for me, so I'll try to stay in the shallow end...

    Where does Bricktown fall in terms of lease cost? Significantly higher than other urban retail areas in the region? For instance, I'm curious what the cost differences are between Bricktown, Utica Square, Nichols Hills, Highland Park, etc. I know there are a multitude of other variables, but I have heard prior Bricktown tenants speak of extremely high overhead, which obviously makes for pretty thin margins.

    It seems when these discussions of retail come up, thoughts immediately go to mall-type retail (how many pairs of $100+ jeans does anyone really need?). I'd love to see a gourmet "niche" market spawn. Consider if you wandered into an area of Bricktown that contained a Sur La Table, Balducci's, or even better - a Native Roots or Forward Foods grocery. Maybe even a produce market like Sterling or Angel's. Those are all places I routinely go out of my way for.

    Why doesn't that work? Cost too high? Demand too small?

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Why no retail in Bricktown?

    Visibility, traffic (actual buyers) and costs of installing the store (remodeling).

    If costs come down then the risks can be taken and traffic can be generated. But one store can't do it by themselves. People want to "shop" not go to A store. We tried that with Bass and creating a single destination store doesn't make it a shopping area. There has to be commitment to multiple stores and a concerted effort of the district and property owners/developers.

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