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A new master plan
City negotiates with firm to rethink Bricktown's future

By Steve Lackmeyer Published: June 4, 2008

Cowan noted that despite Bricktown's appearance of success, it's still half vacant. At least a dozen buildings are either empty and/or awaiting redevelopment. And while other districts, including Wichita's Old Town, boast dozens of shops, Bricktown has but a half dozen.

"People scream, ‘We need more retail, we need more retail,' and this is to also look at how we attract that retail, and keep what we've got,” Cowan said. "We want to get retail that will complement businesses already down here.”

One owner expects a fresh perspective
Cowan said he also hopes the master plan will encourage owners of undeveloped properties to move forward with improvements. He said too many owners measure success by the rise and fall of property values and not by leasing activity.

"We have a lot of property owners, and they all have their own ideas,” Cowan said. "But this will give everybody a target and ideas on what to do with everything. "

Chuck Ainsworth, a veteran Bricktown developer who is working with Jeff More on the Candy Factory at 1 E Sheridan, also welcomes the creation of a master plan.

"Sometimes it's that old deal where you're in the middle of it all and you can't see the forest for the trees,” Ainsworth said. "If you bring a good professional group from outside to look at the area, it might provide a fresh perspective. A survey like this might assist or motivate owners to do something with properties that have been sitting vacant for a long time.”

With Bricktown in foreground, the Oklahoma City skyline is pictured on a sunny March afternoon. By Jim Beckel, Oklahoman archive

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