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  1. Northwest OKC NW 39th Street GLBiT District

    So surprised there isn't a district thread for the city's gay district so here goes!

    What does the city need to do to improve the area? What would make this area pick-up and add to the vibrancy of the city as a whole? What does the community need to showcase their positive impact to the city? How can this area become less of a 'dive bar' district and more of an anchor to the larger neighborhood(s) - like the 16th Street Plaza District has proven to become?

    Let the ideas role and please - keep it development and urban related since this district is part of our city's inner core fabric.
    Oklahoma City, the RENAISSANCE CITY!

  2. Default Re: NW 39th Street GLBiT District

    I'll start with the first suggestion.

    I thought to find/start this tread based on reading I had done on city-data and other OKCTalk threads which seem to paint a less than desirable element to this particular district. I found it rather interesting that the feeling from most folks had nothing openly against the community itself but moreso the 'condition' and upkeep (or lack there-of) of the DISTRICT. Also another finding from a very small handful of the posters in city-data was that OKC didn't seem to be tolerant yet I believe OKC has a rather large community.

    I'm not suggesting that in order to be gay one has to only patronize 39th street; but I for one would like to see this core hood become more of a showcase of what the community is about in Oklahoma City rather than JUST being a party strip. Why not be both - and be good at it?

    Here is my thought - even those who might not be as tolerant might have a different opinion if the community wasn't in the shadows. If people knew the impact gay OKC has on the city - whatever that might be, then there wouldn't be a need to hide and party after dark behind the interstate. Perhaps this is what separates OKC from Tulsa in a way - which is odd because I believe OKC has a larger community and an actual district but less public offerings/buildings - the current impact that one sees of the OKC community is a run-down, former industrial warehouse strip with a couple of bars and night clubs based on what I've read.

    To me this has to change. Imagine this, in 2015 there is no active resistance to gay marriage in Oklahoma. Perhaps there is a realistic undertone but this likely might not even exist if you could see a better impact than the current shape of the district. This 'change' in culture is right on the tip of OKC's feet it seems so the current shape of the district got me thinking:

    "What if the community turned one of the buildings in the area into a community center? What if there were trees planted, sidewalks rebuilt, restaurants and bars of all types/cuisines opened (gay friendly, but all accepting of course)? What if the sidewalks were lit better at night and perhaps the light poles in the district were pink (ala Vancouver's Davie District)? What if the 'has to be' many gay artists, writers, musicians opened gallery/office space in the district? What if dance clubs from many genre's opened and (while gay friendly) embraced the community to dance the night away? What if the focus of the area changed from 'an oasis where you can be yourself at night' to that of an urban ENCLAVE that embraces everyone to come and see the good that the Gay community does for OKC - through the jobs, shoppes, resources, and entertainment options that are top knotch (or at least had a few targeted dollar demographics other than dirt cheap)? What if decent, urban, affordable and top market housing went up in and near the district?

    Wouldn't this make OKC a better city while also giving residents something else to be proud of - regardless of their political or gender makeup or preference? I guess my point is why does OKC only have a Gay District in the shadows and run down - seems to only perpetuate long held stereotypes and not show what the community is really about.

    But go to the Asian District - see what those folks have/are doing? and it's not JUST Asian only but it does give you somewhat of an idea of the impact they have on the city and there is some significant successes (and good food. I think they have some ways to go on urban vibe/entertainment however). What about the rapidly emerging Hispanic downtown of Capital Hill? Not as far along as the Asian District but certainly much more density of existing building stock with a nice master plan and very much cators to the local community while not hiding its identity (former and new). Sure, there's other Asian stuff all around town and same for the most of the rest of the city's mozaic but there also seems to be those focal points which while nearly all fledgling at least have some progress much moreso than 39th Street.

    I could go on and on, and actually probably every district in OKC outside of downtown has sidewalk/lighting/placemaking issues - but with MAPS and bond dollars making those projects become reality shouldn't 39th Street come to the party with their plans? Come with a plan, force the city/state to live up to its code, and become pioneers of the community to make the neighborhood YOU want.

    This message was not meant to be particularly political nor singular to one specific person nor exclusive to any group but clearly the target audience is OKC's Gay etc community and the state of said community's 'cultural' district. There actually exists a Gay district in OKC - I personally think it would be great if it was bustling with urban choices day and night where everyone could patronize just because the food is good/the drinks are great/the music is what you were looking for/Gay-Straight-In-between-Nothing. ... In my opinion, such a Renaissance of 39th Street would add to OKC's overall cultural mozaic while showcasing the Gay community's impact on the City and very likely the city as a whole would FURTHER embrace the community because there would no longer be a closet to hide in. Thoughts?
    Oklahoma City, the RENAISSANCE CITY!

  3. #3

    Default Re: NW 39th Street GLBiT District

    Thanks for starting this thread. I agree with you - it would be great to see this area thrive as an all-inclusive diversity hub.

    Taking steps to help beautify any district is always a good thing, in my opinion. I think this particular area will have its time eventually. My better half and I were in Oklahoma City a few weekends ago, and ended up at Phoenix Rising. We thought it was a great place and felt completely comfortable - very much like a neighborhood bar. After many trips to the city, this was our first time to venture to 39th.

    I've always thought Oklahoma City had a pretty tolerant attitude towards the gay community. Of course, you'll have an incident here-and-there, but overall, the city is relaxed. As long as city leaders recognize the area and the potential impact it could have on the city as a whole, the awareness will come. In turn, the 39th Street community leaders should do the same, and work with the city leaders to help promote the district. Not being afraid to advertise the district as "LGBT friendly" in mainstream publications and/or websites is one stimulant. I'm not saying that a full-page, rainbow-colored ad in the New York Times claiming "39th Street is Oklahoma's version of West Hollywood" is necessary, but promoting the area in a professional, informative manner would probably help raise awareness. I think as more people from more diverse areas of the country come to OKC, change will probably follow.

    Just my two cents.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: NW 39th Street GLBiT District

    Maybe the gay district needs more big attractions to draw big crowds. Perhaps, gay rodeo weekend and the bigger gay parade day aren't enough for the year.

    I don't think the area has much potential for change, especially if it's true that gay districts have been declining in other large cities. The area hasn't changed a great deal since the Habana decided to go all gay in 1987. If there was much demand for change as the years went by, there should have been more noticeable change for the better by now. The new Boom when it opened several years ago is probably just about the only change for the better and needed from Angels closing. At least the Boom is no dive.

    Talk about the Habana gaining control of Angles and closed it, except for special events, wasn't a cool development and a change for the worse. I thought a lot of straights had liked going there, but apparently not.

  5. #5

    Default Re: NW 39th Street GLBiT District

    I agree the district needs to be spruced up. I know there was talk a few years ago and they did a traffic study and had considered a roundabout at 39th and Barnes and some crosswalks. that sounded like a good plan to me. we ended up with a bike lane and a crosswalk. but yes some trees and sidewalks redone would do a lot of make it look better and it would be nice if it could attract some daytime business similar to Cedar springs in Dallas. I think a lot of people would like to see some changes but where is the money coming from to do so.

  6. #6

    Default Re: NW 39th Street GLBiT District

    I'm not really familiar with NW 39th street. I always thought of it as the gay bar district (though I didn't know exactly where it was, just that it was supposed to be over somewhere around Penn Square Mall) and so I never really went there. I'm not gay, and so I didn't have a reason to go. It wasn't a place that was supposed to have good restaurants, or cool shops, or a fun atmosphere. Upon seeing this thread, I Google mapped it, and took a look around.

    I know that historically this has been the city's "gay district", if you want to call it that, but I don't know that this is an area that is going to gentrify. You have the Habana Inn, two or three clubs, and a bunch of auto repair shops / storage units / car washes, two rainbow flags, and the Goodwill store. There's not a lot of historic building stock at all. It's mostly ugly sheet metal and incredibly cheap commercial buildings. I'm sure that's why gay clubs set up over there in the past -- because most people in this city never went there. Today, in an age when gay people are much more accepted than they were before, is there a reason for 39th to stay the "gay district"? It just seems to me that if you're going to put a ton of money into an area, you may want to start with a place that has more potential. 39th street would have to be build pretty much from the ground up. Is that worth it for an area that is just a seedy no-tell motel and a couple of dance clubs?

  7. #7

    Default Re: NW 39th Street GLBiT District

    there are a few buildings that could be utilized. New construction where the old motel was on 39th that they finally dozed.. the Tire shop on the corner was vacant forever and I always thought it would be a cool spot for a restaurant. the old owners of Angles built that new building years ago and basically did nothing with it. I think there is a liquor store and a coffee shop in it and something else not sure.
    Cedar springs district in Dallas use to be a crap hole.. a larger area of crap hole than 39th sure but still it cleaned and became something. I don't think 39th has the same potential but it could definitely be better than it is. You are right there is a lot more acceptance and gay people go out everywhere these days. I'd still like to see the area cleaned up a bit and think it could be better for sure.
    the thing about gay districts is there is a history there. It may not be important to many straight folks but it is to a gay community.

  8. Default Re: NW 39th Street GLBiT District

    I've also questioned the future potential of the area. But how do you essentially uproot the existing community that has established in this area and relocate? Where could they relocate? The COPA and The Finish Line are both located within the Habana Inn. Tramps, The Wreck, The Boom, The Apothecary, Phoenix Rising I would assume all enjoy pretty low rent considering surrounding properties and the quality of the buildings they are housed in...

  9. #9

    Default Re: NW 39th Street GLBiT District

    you would not effectively uproot the community I don't believe. the bars are not going to uproot to start a new district.

  10. #10

    Default Re: NW 39th Street GLBiT District

    ^
    Don't know where I heard, but I felt that there was an effort to market Film Row to more LGBT oriented businesses.

    The common theme for the Asian District, Windsor Hills, and even NE23rd to a lesser extent is that they all have fairly strong associations despite being outside the "radius of cool" that Bricktown/Midtown/Plaza etc. benefit from. Does a business association exist for 39th? Have they ever approached the city? I really believe the city government is at a place now where they would be heard. Remember it wasn't that long ago Western Ave was starting to slip a bit, but the new streetscape will really pull them out of their rut.

  11. #11

    Default Re: NW 39th Street GLBiT District

    Pete did an excellent job explaining this in another thread a while back. 39th St is the way it is because of its history. When it developed they wanted it to be hidden and separate from the broader community. I don't think uprooting the entire community to move it somewhere else would be feasible, but I think it could be great if improvements were made to it like what is currently underway on Western.

    OKC is still a pretty conservative place and my guess it might still be politically toxic to push investment in 39th, especially if it involves the city funding a themed district. I could be wrong though. If that is the case, improvements to the area is going to have to come from a private investor with deep pockets.

  12. #12

    Default Re: NW 39th Street GLBiT District

    The only real push on film row was that they tried having the Gay Pride festival on Film row one year. In attempt to change it up. they also had tried moving Pride to May instead of June because of the heat. Neither of these ideas went over very well and Pride was very poorly attended when hosted in May and the Festival when held on Film row was basically non-existent. May might have been cooler but it also was stormy both years and Pride happens in June for a reason and many ( myself included ) didn't think moving it due to the heat was appropriate. Music festivals and parades happen all over the US in the heat of june so it was a poor excuse.

  13. #13

    Default Re: NW 39th Street GLBiT District

    Quote Originally Posted by Bullbear View Post
    The only real push on film row was that they tried having the Gay Pride festival on Film row one year. In attempt to change it up. they also had tried moving Pride to May instead of June because of the heat. Neither of these ideas went over very well and Pride was very poorly attended when hosted in May and the Festival when held on Film row was basically non-existent. May might have been cooler but it also was stormy both years and Pride happens in June for a reason and many ( myself included ) didn't think moving it due to the heat was appropriate. Music festivals and parades happen all over the US in the heat of june so it was a poor excuse.
    I think its a gamble to have any festival in May in Oklahoma given the weather here. People will come out when its hot but they tend to stay home when tornadoes are on the ground. I really wanted to attend the craft beer festival this weekend but ended up staying home because of the weather. I wonder if the Film Row idea would have worked if they kept it in June.

  14. #14

    Default Re: NW 39th Street GLBiT District

    It would have had a better chance.. but they did end up moving the festival from the park on Classen to the actual strip on 39th and that worked much better. it seems to have grown a lot with the addition of a full street festival all weekend. the problem being it has to be pulled down rather quickly on sunday as the parade passes through. but I think they learned a lot from last year and they will probably do that part different on sunday. those guys breaking down all those tents in the heat on sunday were dying! probably best to have the street vendors end on Saturday night and break those down and then the street is clear for parade on Sunday. Friday night concert and street festival, Saturday street festival, Sunday Parade. we will see how it goes this year.

  15. #15

    Default Re: NW 39th Street GLBiT District

    Good discussion here. I think a lot of what has been said -- sidewalks, more lighting, trees -- would do a lot to make the area feel more inviting. Ultimately though it is right next to the interstate. As much fun as the Copa is, it isn't an appealing prospect to walk in a dark street down to the side of the interstate and go to a club inside a motel from your car parked in front of an old warehouse.

    It could be because most of the LGBT people I know are younger, but I don't sense any particular attachment to the area. They only go because that's where the clubs are. With the way perspectives are changing for the LGBT community these days, I feel like a gay bar/club and some affiliated restaurants could do well in Midtown or Bricktown or something. I have tons of straight friends (male and female) who like to go to gay clubs and have fun, but barely know anything about 39th Street or where it is. But they all know Bricktown and many are familiar with Midtown to an extent, and I think something like that would thrive in those areas nowadays. My boyfriend has told me about a restaurant-turned-gay-club-at-night that used to exist in Bricktown years ago but no longer does. Perhaps in the future that's where we are headed? Just thinking out loud here.

    (Sidenote: It still surprises me there isn't a single gay bar/club in Norman. Is it just the proximity to OKC or what? I think there is enough of a population with the University that a gay bar could succeed near Campus Corner or something...?)

  16. #16

    Default Re: NW 39th Street GLBiT District

    I think the normal thing is due to proximity. its close enough to OKC that a predominately gay bar in norman just never happened.

    the bar in Bricktown that was gay bar in evening is where the Henry Hudsons public house is now. it had been a daiquiri bar or something. it only lasted about 6 months tops before it ceased to exist. Basically if you opened bars with the intention of them being Gay bars ( copa or the like ) it would just be a bar or club as has been mentioned since midtown ect are more open and accepting of the community they would just be absorbed into that lot. The reason the bars on 39th are predominately Gay is due to location and history of the area.

    I am perfectly fine hanging out in any bar ( not so much clubs anymore unless im visiting out of state places) I don't really care if they identify as Gay or whatever.
    I would like to see 39th just presented a bit better though.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: NW 39th Street GLBiT District

    Quote Originally Posted by LocoAko View Post
    (Sidenote: It still surprises me there isn't a single gay bar/club in Norman. Is it just the proximity to OKC or what? I think there is enough of a population with the University that a gay bar could succeed near Campus Corner or something...?)
    Stillwater, with OSU there, has very seldom ever had any gay bars with the last one in 1995. My guess is the drag queens in Oklahoma City and Tulsa would enjoy supporting a gay bar in Stillwater while visiting each other. But if there are no gays in any town, who want to risk going into business with a gay bar, then that town just isn't going to have a gay bar. Perhaps, Oklahoma's alcohol laws tend to discourage doing that.

  18. Default Re: NW 39th Street GLBiT District

    I'd honestly love to see the Gayborhood grow into more of an all-day destination... The boyfriend and I never really go down there except for Pride because we're not really the clubbing type, the area is pretty much dead during the day, and generally feels seedy and uninviting to me. The area could honestly be really cool with some building rehabilitation and new construction, but I have significant doubts that any of that will happen unless we have an ally with deep pockets to invest in the neighborhood. I'd love to see some retail and restaurants displace the tire shops and empty storefronts.

  19. Default Re: NW 39th Street GLBiT District

    I was reading the OKCPride webpage for this year's festivities, and noted that the website states "OKC Pride Week is the largest privately-held event in Oklahoma and has grown into an regional destination for tens of thousands from across Oklahoma and surrounding states."

    Obviously the business owners and local community are no strangers to coming together as a group to network, build, and create. I'm not sure if that statement is 100% accurate, but it's still a testament to the power the community holds when they come together. I wonder why working together for even small, but positive changes to the district isn't something I hear about; although to be fair, I don't really know what may go on behind the scenes. The first priority should be new lighting along the strip, then a streetscape. The street is basically one giant curb cut with spotty or no sidewalks at all. A small version of the Plaza District's streetscape would be ideal along the core strip of older buildings. Wide sidewalks for potential patios (4 of the bars have patios already, but on the backside of their property), and pedestrian movement during large events like Pride or busy weekends. A few buildings/storefronts within the core of the district still sit empty and unused, a vibrant new streetscape may be the edge that pushes some of the underutilized buildings and lots to develop, even just for a supporting business such as a restaurant, performance venue, community center, small retail shops, etc. Landscaping would go a long way in the district too, but l feel that's just unnecessarily jumping the gun if there isn't a streetscape or adequate lighting to compliment the landscaping.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: NW 39th Street GLBiT District

    Landscaping and lighting are a common theme in almost every post. You do want the place to feel safer and friendlier and have some businesses other than bars. LGBT folks have family, kids and friends just like everybody else. I would like it to be on the list of places to see while in OKC.

  21. #21

    Default Re: NW 39th Street GLBiT District

    Ed Shadid has been trying to martial some support for a NW 39th streetscape. We should support this and work together to get this done. They should do a design overlay district and put the gays on it. Best design review in the city (which almost sounds impressive).

    [Watch thread devolve into 10-page pissing battle between the same people]

  22. #22
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    Default Re: NW 39th Street GLBiT District

    Aw man, you said the S word.

  23. #23

    Default Re: NW 39th Street GLBiT District

    I KNOW IM SORRY!!!!! Lol

  24. #24

    Default Re: NW 39th Street GLBiT District

    I don't like the guy but nothing wrong with him supporting part of his ward for something that is needed.

  25. #25

    Default Re: NW 39th Street GLBiT District

    Quote Originally Posted by pahdz View Post
    I don't like the guy but nothing wrong with him supporting part of his ward for something that is needed.
    I agree. I didn't want Shadid as mayor but I think he has done a lot of good on city council.

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