Study suggests more emphasis on retail, housing for Bricktown to prosper

The slow emergence of retail along the Bricktown Canal in Oklahoma City is seen as one of the key steps toward the area not being reduced to a restaurant and bar district, according to a study released Tuesday.
by Steve Lackmeyer Published: October 19, 2011
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The latest retail offerings popping up in Bricktown likely will not be seen as a threat to Penn Square Mall or other popular shopping areas around town.

After all, the addition of an outlet of Edmond's Archive Books in the Bricktown Marketplace along the Bricktown Canal only occupies a few hundred square feet. And when Guestroom Records opens along the Bricktown Canal next month below UCO's Academy of Contemporary Music, it will occupy 800 square feet — about a third of the size of owner Justin Sowers' music store in northwest Oklahoma City.

“When I visited New York City last year, one of the highlights of the trip was spending a considerable amount of time in Bleecker Street Records in the West Village,” said Chad Huntington, who co-owns the nearby Bricktown Marketplace and Red Dirt Emporium. “Guestroom is exactly that kind of record store, and I think it's a brilliant stroke of luck for everyone concerned that they will be here soon.”

The expanding retail also is seen as the sort of variety needed to overcome the risk that Bricktown be branded as just a restaurant and bar district, said A.J. Kirkpatrick, an assistant city planner. Kirkpatrick spent the last year interviewing bankers, brokers, property owners and merchants in the district in an effort to come up with a plan to promote continued growth and development.

Where is it going?

In a presentation Tuesday to the Oklahoma City Council, Kirkpatrick said property owners interviewed as part of the study are worried about the district's current direction. One owner commented, “there is no commonality of goals among owners right now — it's like ships passing in the night.”

Bankers interviewed, meanwhile, said they were least interested in loaning money for restaurants and bars in the district, and were more interested in helping open housing, offices and retail. Property owners, meanwhile, gave the reverse order when citing how they wish to develop their properties.

“The problem we've seen in other entertainment districts is if you continue to do bar after bar after bar, you chase away other land uses that are more sustainable,” Kirkpatrick said. “You don't want residential over bars, you don't want retailers next to bars if they're going to have be cleaning sidewalk every morning.”

Learning on the job

Kirkpatrick said the study shows the city can work with the Bricktown Association and Downtown Oklahoma City Inc. in trying to educate property owners and encourage development of long-vacant space throughout the district.

He said bankers and real estate professionals echoed sentiments voiced by brokers Zach Martin, Andy and David Burnett in a recent article in The Oklahoman, saying property owners' lease and sale expectations have often prevented successful development of the district.

“Compared to other parts of downtown, Bricktown has attracted entrepreneurs who made their money in other professions and admittedly are learning development as they go,” Kirkpatrick said.


by Steve Lackmeyer
Reporter Sr.
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter and columnist who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's Metropolitan...
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Related Documents

At a glance

Recommendations for Bricktown

The Bricktown Strategic Plan lists several actions that can be taken by property owners and merchants, including moving the Bricktown Association into a more visible location, collective marketing and working together on a master plan. The plan also suggests several actions that can be pursued by the city:

Add curbside parking, especially along Reno Avenue between the Bricktown “core” and Lower Bricktown.

Create a pedestrian pathway from Deep Deuce to Bricktown through the Main Street surface parking lots.

Reconnect Oklahoma Avenue from NE 2 in Deep Deuce to Main Street.

Add sidewalks and lighting along Russell M. Perry Avenue between Deep Deuce and Bricktown.

Encourage mixed-use development with parking.

Consider eliminating automatic alcohol and beverage zoning in east Bricktown.

Strengthen parking lot design standards, require existing lots to upgrade to any new standards.

Examine existing rules prohibiting dog walking along the canal, limitations on street vendors.

Online

To read the Bricktown Strategic Plan Summary, go to NewsOK.com.

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