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Oklahoma City Council takes cues from peer cities Fort Worth, Texas, Charlotte, N.C.

The Oklahoma City Council held a special meeting Tuesday to hear presentations from officials in Charlotte, N.C., and Fort Worth, Texas, which are further along in major urban redevelopment programs than the city. The peer city officials stressed patience, partnership and compromise.
BY MICHAEL KIMBALL mkimball@opubco.com Published: September 19, 2012
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Patience, partnership, planning and compromise will be key elements in sustaining Oklahoma City's redevelopment momentum if experiences in Fort Worth, Texas, and Charlotte, N.C., are indications.

The Oklahoma City Council spent Tuesday morning in a special meeting at Oklahoma City Community College to hear the redevelopment stories of Fort Worth and Charlotte, both a few years further along with major redevelopment initiatives similar to things happening here.

Planners from both cities shared their stories with the council and stressed that a long-term view, careful planning, partnerships with the private sector and compromises in the face of controversy have been catalysts to sustained success.

Charlotte

Charlotte's redevelopment efforts focused on a revitalized downtown core and a revamped, expanded transportation service in the metro, said Debra Campbell, planning director for Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. Continued efforts focusing on making the downtown area viable, livable, memorable and sustainable have been hallmarks.

But lessons have been learned over decades and applied in contemporary efforts, Campbell said.

The city has worked hard in recent years to minimize the number of people displaced by urban redevelopment after low-income families were kicked out of downtown in the 1960s.

“We will never, ever make that mistake again,” Campbell vowed.

Charlotte's transit renaissance involved making sure a light rail system serving outlying areas connected with bus services to help commuters, not just tourists and people who spend all day downtown.

And in words that may resonate with people following development of the future Oklahoma City Boulevard downtown, Campbell left no doubt where she thinks the focus should be when tackling Oklahoma City's transportation challenges.

“A good land use plan is a good transportation plan,” Campbell said. “But land use should lead.”

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