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. Whereas he used to think that having a big family meant he needed to live in the suburbs with a big yard, he said his mind-set changed when friends told him their children rarely played outside in their gated community. And he said he won't miss having a yard to maintain. Another project of The Humphreys Co., The Flatiron, is a mixed-use project that will combine modern urban living with retail and business spaces. It will start construction in October. The company also has plans for a $100 million inner-city, mixed-use development at NE 36 and Interstate 235. The Brownstones at Maywood Park are another new addition to urban Oklahoma City housing options. Four-story brownstones line NE 3 between Oklahoma and Broadway with stunning views of the downtown skyline. Among the largest of the new urban dwellings, the brownstones' price tags start at $590,000 for a 2,371-square-foot model. "The outsides are totally finished,” Craiger said. Triangle Development is developing the brownstones. "The insides are left just framed. At this price point, we realize that people who buy will want to pick out every finish, they may want to change a wall or add a wall. It allows all that to be done if we stop at the framing stage.” Triangle Development has two other endeavors more moderately priced at The Lofts at Maywood Park on NE 2 between Oklahoma and Broadway, and Central Avenue Villas at 400 N Central Ave. The villas and lofts start at $138,000 for a 606-square-foot flat and range in price to $478,000 for a 1,944-square-foot flat. "Those are selling quickly because of the price points,” said Ron Bradshaw, a partner in Triangle Development. If you want to experience living downtown but don't want to buy a home, several apartment complexes offer the urban lifestyle without the hefty price. Deep Deuce apartments start at $645 per month and come with amenities including a community pool and clubhouse as well as being within walking distance to Bricktown and downtown Oklahoma City. "It's very fast-paced. At Deep Deuce, it's a young generation,” said Christy Anglin, the property's manager. "We've already had people inquiring about the Sonics. I've had people leasing an apartment here to stay at when they're in town for the games.” Downtown Oklahoma City is fast becoming a cosmopolitan city. "I never thought of OKC being condos and metropolitan, and when you come down here it's just shooting up, and people just don't realize it,” Anglin said. "It's really starting to boom.” For a listing of various housing options downtown, go online to www.downtownokc.com.
Take a tourGo online to NewsOK.com/home-garden to watch Dave and Angi tour downtown living at the Brownstones at Maywood Park.