After enjoying the fully leased opening of his $24 million, 222-unit Level Urban Apartments last summer, developer Richard McKown is moving forward with plans to expand the project east and west.
Level, at NE 2 and Oklahoma Avenue, was McKown's first downtown project, and opened with a fitness center and Native Roots Market grocery on the first floor. He also said an announcement is pending for a restaurant to open in the last open ground floor storefront.
The next expansion involves an infill development just west of Level between two alleyways, the 2nd Street Lofts, and the Brownstones at Maywood Park.
The project, designed by Level architect Wade Scaramucci, calls for 96 units to be built among four floors topping a two-story parking “podium.”
Scaramucci said the design emphasizes the diversity of the area, which is surrounded by three very different styles of rental and for-sale housing.
“It has 17 different types of units, which is pretty unique considering it has (a total of) 96 units,” Scaramucci said. “So we're offering a lot of diversity. You want to provide people with private and public amenity. And real diversity comes with getting many different sorts of tenants.”
Scaramucci said the designs call for balconies that are offset from balconies of neighboring properties, and turn the alleyways into public spaces.
“We're embracing that alleyways are where everything happens, and how that can be interesting.”
McKown purchased the “Level west” site at the same time he bought the original Level property. He bought more parcels to the east of Level at NE 3 and Oklahoma last month for $294,000 and hopes to buy the remaining undeveloped parcels on that block from the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority for more housing in the future.
In presenting designs for “Level west” Thursday to the Downtown Design Review Committee, McKown estimated the east site work will begin in about 18 months — if the current expansion is successful. He hopes to start construction on the west development this summer with an opening in mid-2014.
His plans include more ground floor retail, specifically a coffee shop.“We're excited about a coffee shop happening no matter what,” McKown said. “There is enough demand; there are enough pedestrian commuters who want that kind of place.”
Deep Deuce, generally considered to be bordered by NE 1, NE 4, the BNSF railway viaduct and Interstate 235, was a blighted, formerly African American neighborhood in the 1990s. Redevelopment started slowly with the construction of the Deep Deuce apartments, and then proceeded with renovations of burned-out buildings into housing, restaurants and shops, development of for-sale and rental housing, and then offices and hotels. Only a few parcels remain that have yet to be targeted for construction of housing or more hotels.