An urban renaissance in downtown Oklahoma City is rapidly altering the city's skyline along with the lifestyles of some of its citizens. As the city joins the ranks of the big leagues, gaining an NBA basketball team and attracting national attention, housing options also are on the rise.
From million-dollar brownstones to ultra-modern flats, prospective residents downtown have more choices than ever for what and where they call home.
"I think the trend now in most cities is to come back into the city instead of keep sprawling out,” said Brenda Craiger, marketing director for Triangle Development. "With fuel costs today, I think people's lifestyles are changing.
"They're not spending time out in their yards; it's just something to maintain. They'd rather get out and walk to the restaurants, to do their shopping and to events that they want to go to. In other cities, that's how it is.”
To witness the evolution, just take a drive through downtown Oklahoma City. All through the area, construction teams are clearing sites, framing condos and landscaping the future of the city. Historic buildings such as The Sieber at NW 12 and Hudson and Hadden Hall at 215 NW 10 are being renovated into modern luxury flats with Old World architecture.
The Montgomery at 500 W Main, which opened in 1929 as the Montgomery Ward Department Store, is a mixed-use Art Deco renovation with 56 apartments and three stories of specialty stores and offices.
And new developments are in every stage of construction. Block 42, a condominium development with 42 units at 301 NE 4, is just one of many additions to the cityscape offering an antidote to urban sprawl and an alternative living style to the typical suburbia bedroom communities that are the cornerstone of Oklahoma living.
"For a long time, I think people thought the American dream was a picket fence in the suburbs with a yard,” said Grant Humphreys, chief executive officer of The Humphreys Co., the developers of Block 42. "What I'm finding out now is that people are more interested in having amenities, convenience and having a healthy lifestyle where they can walk places.”
Block 42 condominiums come in three-story townhouse style walk-ups and elevator-accessed flats. They range in price from $295,000 to more than $650,000.
Humphreys and Craiger said the primary buyers downtown are empty-nesters and young professional singles and couples with no children.
"People that buy down here definitely are buying for the lifestyle,” Craiger said. "They want to live downtown. They're not buying because it's the best price point in town. They're wanting to move down here because they think they want to experience the lifestyle.”
But Humphreys said he hopes to see more families and young people move into the area. He plans to move to Block 42 within the next few weeks with his pregnant wife and four children.