On faith and works in Oklahoma City

Richard Mize Published: February 24, 2001
It's no stretch to look to Scripture for inspiration for real estate and development.

Not if you believe in the Bible and believe in Oklahoma City.

Fred Jones Hall believes in both. As president of Fred Jones Cos. Inc., co-founder of Downtown Oklahoma City Inc. and chairman of the Oklahoma Transportation Authority, Hall believes in plenty.

He took a page from his pastor's sermon Thursday in a speech before the Commercial Real Estate Council of Oklahoma City. He mentioned Jabez, a descendant of Judah "more honorable than his brethren."

1 Chronicles 4:10:

"Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, 'Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.' And God granted his request."

Hall's point was anecdotal but important: the real estate business -- "enlarge my territory" -- is an old business, and one that "always leads the drive" as people move forward.

Some positives are well-known but worth repeating -- since we Oklahomans sometimes are prone to expect the worst. (Who could blame us?)

A billion-with-a-"b" dollars is rushing into the relatively tiny patch of property that is downtown Oklahoma City -- $400 million in the Metropolitan Area Projects, $100 million in federal bombing money, $100 million in spending on infrastructure and about $400 million in private capital.

Sales prices for buildings in Bricktown have gone from $5 per square foot in 1993 to around $30 per square foot now.

Oklahoma ownership has returned to downtown in a big way, with virtually every significant transaction in the past two years involving local buyers.

A budding cultural district, the growing health-medical research community, the downtown Deep Deuce apartment project -- there are plenty of reasons to believe.

Faith, however, is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen, the author of Hebrews observed.

Prophets rise up to warn the people -- not so they'll fear the future, but so they can take steps to change it.

Hall gave the real estate pros some negatives that he said must be overcome for Oklahoma City to prosper.

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