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Both urban core and suburbs are vital parts of Oklahoma City

Oklahoman business writer looks at how growing tension between downtown and suburban Oklahoma City hurts entire community.
by Steve Lackmeyer Published: July 9, 2013
/articleid/3860342/1/pictures/2154171">Photo - The Oklahoma River and downtown are casting a new image for Oklahoma City, but the revival isn't without critics.
The Oklahoma River and downtown are casting a new image for Oklahoma City, but the revival isn't without critics. PHOTO BY NATE BILLINGS, THE OKLAHOMAN NATE BILLINGS

Consider that the core lifts the whole city — and that the core also needs the whole city. A city with a rotten core dies — we saw this in the 1980s. A city with a thriving core thrives as a whole — we see that now.

Likewise, not everyone is able to live in urban core; that doesn't make them bad or anti-urban core. Suburbia is part of the overall city, and the city has continued to spend hundreds of millions on streets, bridges, sidewalks, trails, libraries and schools throughout the metro.

Investment in the core, meanwhile, is proven to benefit to city as a whole. I offer up the following evidence:

Without investment downtown, we wouldn't have an arena. And without the arena, we wouldn't have the Thunder. And then we wouldn't have had Kevin Durant, the NBA, Nike and the Thunder each donating $1 million to tornado recovery efforts in south Oklahoma City and Moore. Yes, that's right — no downtown investment, no $4 million toward relief efforts in the south Oklahoma City metro.

Without investment downtown, Devon Energy's co-founder Larry Nichols has stated repeatedly the company would have ended up in Houston. Without investment downtown, Continental Resources wouldn't have moved to Oklahoma City. No downtown investment, no 2,500 employees (at least) buying homes throughout the metro.

Without investment downtown, we have a struggling Bricktown and an a boarded-up Automobile Alley. MidTown is a ghost town with an abandoned St. Anthony Hospital. Film Row is still “skid row.” Oklahoma City doesn't have UpTown 23rd or the 16th Street Plaza District.

Downtown can't go it alone — if it's the living room for the whole city, the rest of the house must be maintained as well. We've seen Oklahoma City fail as a whole in the 1980s, and we've seen a united Oklahoma City thrive this past decade. Which path do we want to follow through the decade that follows?

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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