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Blighted MidTown properties may be targeted under revised Urban Renewal plan in Oklahoma City

Ahmad Bahreini has an appointment in Oklahoma City Municipal Court on April 5 to answer citations for storing vehicles at his boarded-up gas station at NW 10 and Harvey.
by Steve Lackmeyer Published: March 27, 2013

Ahmad Bahreini has an appointment in Oklahoma City Municipal Court on April 5 to answer citations for storing vehicles at his boarded-up, decades-old gas station at NW 10 and Harvey.

Such citations are not new to Bahreini, who has repeatedly paid fines for housing the cars, many of which were inoperable.

A dozen years ago, Bahreini's building was no different from those across the street. But the corner now is surrounded by former flophouses turned into upscale apartments and previously boarded-up buildings that have been renovated and filled with restaurants and shops.

County assessor records show Bahreini has owned the property since 1990, but that could change under a proposed blight plan amendment being sought by the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority.

The neighborhood itself was declared blighted by the city council in 1997 as part of an effort by the city to keep St. Anthony Hospital in MidTown, which at the time was littered with flop houses, boarded up and abandoned buildings. That plan was the start of a turn around that has seen more than $100 million plowed back into the neighborhood.

“MidTown is a dynamic area with incredible potential,” Urban Renewal Director Cathy O'Connor said. “The current North Downtown Redevelopment Plan was last updated in the 1990s and no longer reflects the current conditions in the area. The Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority is opening discussion to the public to ensure an updated plan reflects existing development and to identify new economic development opportunities.”

The plan, O'Connor said, may include a renewed focus on acquiring and redeveloping neglected properties.

“There is a possibility we will be identifying parcels that will help in the continued growth and development of the area if they are required to facilitate blight removal,” O'Connor said. “It may not just be places with code violations — others with title issues, not probated properly — that we can help with.”

The Bahreini property, she added, is an example of a potential acquisition under an amended urban renewal plan. Bahreini denied his property is blighted, but declined to say if he is proud of its appearance.

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by Steve Lackmeyer
Business Reporter
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter, columnist and author 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...
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Meeting set for Tuesday:

An Urban Renewal blight zone for MidTown was first created by the Oklahoma City Council in 1997 and covers an area bordered by NW 4, NW 13, Classen Boulevard and the BNSF Railway viaduct. A public meeting on the proposed blight amendment will be held 5:30-6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the lobby of the Siebert Hotel Apartments, 1305 N Hudson Ave.

Amendment goals include:

— Update language in current plan to reflect MidTown development.

— Update finding of blight.

— Support the Oklahoma City University Law School move to the old Central High School at NW 7 and Harvey in Midtown.

— Support the ongoing expansion of St. Anthony Hospital.

— Identify key sites for acquisition to facilitate blight removal.

— Recommend public parks, spaces and other improvements to support increased density and appeal of Midtown as an urban, mixed-use neighborhood.

— Provide development and design concepts to contribute to the evolution of streetcar system planning.

— Provide planning concepts to stimulate private development that is pedestrian oriented.


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