Gary Brooks admitted Wednesday he's going against his usual approach to developing apartments as he get closer to building the first large-scale housing and retail complex in Bricktown.
Brooks, along with partner Andy Burnett, presented plans for their east Bricktown housing, which will include 250 apartments and 10,460 square feet of retail in the $39 million first phase of what will ultimately be a $70 million development.
The project received more than $5 million in federal stimulus money. In return, Brooks and Burnett have promised to designate 39 apartments as having capped rent for workforce housing.
“Ordinarily when we do a project, the goal is to spend as much money as we possibly can, because we want to build as spectacular a project and get really high rents,” said Brooks, who is also developing The Edge apartments at NW 13 and Walker Avenue in MidTown. “In this project, it's the opposite. It's all based on the percentage of our development cost.”
The deal does not involve Section 8 housing or public housing. But it does require Brooks and Burnett to create 39 apartments where residents' income must fall between 50 percent and 125 percent of median local income.
“We will have residents living in this complex who probably make $19,000 a year,” Brooks said. “We will have residents making $100,000 a year. It will be a real mixed use. That's what the city wants. It's what we want.”
Brooks pledged to mix all income level units throughout the complex. The target market for the capped-rent units likely would be nearby employees and students at ACM@UCO; the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and neighboring hospitals; and Olympic rowers training at the Oklahoma River.
“It's the people who work at the hotels, who work at the restaurants,” Brooks said. “It's the general population that comes downtown and wants to live here.”
To make the deal work, Brooks said, he is designing slightly smaller apartments, and looking for alternatives to materials like granite kitchen countertops currently featured in most new downtown developments.
“I would consider this project unsuccessful, or to have not met our goal, if we can't keep our price points at a more reasonable level than we have elsewhere downtown,” Brooks said. “My goal is to keep quality of life here as good as anywhere else downtown.”
How would it look?
The Bricktown Urban Design Committee, which will hear the formal application later this summer, gave high marks to the initial presentation.
The apartment facade would be 60 percent brick and 40 percent aluminum panels.
Brooks also revealed that a Hyatt hotel could be a candidate for the corner of Sheridan and Russell Perry Avenues on the far west corner of the property. Three large murals could be added along the facade of the garages on the north side
The complex also will include three interior courtyards, a clubhouse and a pool.
Brooks said the ground floor retail is the big unknown, but that several national retailers have shown interest in the space.
“We have a lot of retail frontage and I worry about that. There aren't many projects like this. I'm not sure we've done apartments with retail mixed use very well yet. I'm concerned about doing it well,” Brooks said.
Members of the Bricktown Urban Design Committee applauded the project and praised Brooks' efforts at balancing different income level residents with retaining design quality, and moving forward with a mix of retail.
“A less expensive project doesn't mean less design,” said committee member and architect Tom Wilson. “And I think this is an excellent approach to balancing cost versus being appropriate for Bricktown.”
We will have residents living in this complex who probably make $19,000 a year. We will have residents making $100,000 a year. It will be a real mixed use. That's what the city wants, it's what we want.”