An attempt to test whether downtown's real estate market is heated enough to attract development of housing atop a new city garage came in with no takers as the deadline hit Monday.
The deadline to submit a plan to the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority was extended a week. Early on, some developers did show interest in the possibility of instant high-rise housing by simply building three stories of apartments above the new 10-story garage set to be built south of City Hall.
Some may see the lack of a response as a failure for the reorganized Urban Renewal Authority, now part of a broader operation run by the Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City.
But consider that even a few years ago, such an effort would have been unthinkable in downtown Oklahoma City. The folks at Urban Renewal are thinking outside the box, looking at development patterns in other cities and attempting to figure out how to keep momentum going in a central business district that is enjoying some of the highest occupancy rates witnessed since the oil boom of the early 1980s.
Recall that in 1980, leasing reports showed vacancy in downtown Oklahoma City was virtually nonexistent. But when the crash hit, it hit hard, and vacancy jumped to well over 30 percent throughout the late 1980s and most of the 1990s.
Housing during that same time was limited to Regency Tower and a struggling Sycamore Square.