Ben Sellers admits he didn't quite envision having such an easy time luring retailers to the first floor of the Mesta Park Building when he bought it a year ago.
“It was a bank-owned property,” Sellers said. “It was a good building, it has unique architecture. But it was half occupied. It was tired. It needed renovations.”
As NW 23 between Interstate 235 and Classen Boulevard — long known as Uptown — continues to revive, developers like Sellers are encountering a community ready to join in the area's renaissance.
For Sellers, the interest began with a contact by a local Realtor that led to brief discussions about leasing part of the first floor to a frozen yogurt shop. While that deal fell through, Sellers soon was being contacted by Reese Travis, chief executive officer of Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt, about leasing the spot to a new franchisee.
The building at 600 NW 23 is immediately west of the popular Big Truck Tacos and across from a new shopping center dubbed “The Rise” that is set to be developed this next year by Jonathan Russell and Land Run Commercial Real Estate.
“This is a great location for a new store,” Travis said. “I know the locals in that area are going to embrace the welcoming, vibrant and family-friendly environment Orange Leaf has to offer.”
Joshua Newberry and Ben Chamberlain, owners of the franchisee Dynamic Equity Group, said they saw the site as the next natural expansion for NW 23 retail.
Just last weekend they held a fundraiser for Wilson Elementary, which is within walking distance, and they have high hopes they will see traffic from the surrounding historic neighborhoods.
“I grew up in this area,” Chamberlain said. “We went to church at NW 13 and Robinson. We were always in and out of here. There are already successful businesses here — Good Egg Dining Group (owner of Cheever's and Tucker's) and Big Truck Tacos — they just need more of it.”
Newberry noted their search started in nearby MidTown, but the lack of immediately available storefronts led them to NW 23. It wasn't long after he and Chamberlain signed a lease with Sellers that Newberry persuaded friend Justin Price to look at the remaining space on the ground floor of the Mesta Park Building facing NW 23.
By that time, Sellers had added an extended patio that took advantage of the raised elevation and extra setback between the building and the street.