A prime corner of Deep Deuce — NE 4 and Walnut Avenue — has been acquired for $1.4 million by businessman Bob Meinders, who has plans to renovate part of the property into retail with an upstairs apartment.
Meinders, who recently sold the Stewart Metal Fabricators complex in nearby Bricktown to developers planning a mix of housing and retail, said the purchase was prompted by his search for storage space for items being moved out of the Stewart buildings.
The NE 4 and Walnut site, previously the longtime home of Fentriss Sound, was last owned by Smith Roberts Baldischwiler, an engineering firm based across the street. The corner is along a busy entry corridor to Deep Deuce and Bricktown.
“I was at the Deep Deuce Grill talking to some folks from Smith Roberts Baldischwiler, and I mentioned I needed storage, and they told me they had a building they weren't using,” Meinders said.
The 6,000-square-foot metal warehouse, now hidden by brush and overgrown trees, was ideal for Meinders' needs. He saw the older two-story brick building, facing Walnut with adjoining new surface parking, as ideal for commercial redevelopment.
“They bought it for expansion. The economy and their business changed, and they didn't have a need for that property,” Meinders said.
Meinders said he plans to make quick improvements to the site. The older building, built in the 1920s, spans 5,600 square feet. He plans to turn the second story into an apartment, and believes the first floor will be ideal for a restaurant or retail.
“This is a property I'm going to hang onto the rest of my life,” Meinders said. “It needs to be improved and cleaned up. … The apartment I might move into someday. The view from there of downtown is astronomical.”
Deep Deuce revival
Meinders' acquisition is part of a string of land property transactions and developments turning Deep Deuce into downtown's leading mixed-use neighborhood.
The area was blighted and home to just a handful of boarded-up buildings a dozen years ago. But over the past few years, development has heated up with the addition of hundreds of apartments and dozens of for-sale condominiums, with restaurants and shops opening in the older buildings and newer developments.
Richard McKown, developer of Level Urban Apartments, saw the complex at NE 2 and Walnut Avenue open fully leased in July.
Construction since has begun on more apartments at NE 4 and Oklahoma Avenue, and more for-sale housing is being built as part of The Hill condominiums at NE 2 and Russell Perry Avenue.
An Aloft Hotel at NE 2 and Walnut, just east of Level, is set to open in mid-2013.
McKown, meanwhile, is planning development of a second apartment complex just west of Level, with designs set to be announced by summer.
“We're working very hard on the new project,” McKown said. “It will be a beautiful building. … Deep Deuce has reached a critical mass. People want to live down there. People have figured out it's a wonderful neighborhood. It's convenient to everything downtown, and there is an amazing sense of community.”