Rewind to 2008. Downtown Oklahoma City was on the verge of a development boom that was set to include at least three new hotels and hundreds of new apartments and condominiums.
The development I was tracking back then was real. But then the national economic collapse hit, and anything not already under construction pretty much ground to a halt.
In the interim, the economics behind that interest continued to play out.
Upscale, $500,000 for-sale housing wasn't such a big hit, but the demand for more moderately priced housing, apartments and hotel rooms proved to outpace most expectations.
New properties such as the Bricktown Hampton Inn and Legacy at Arts Quarter apartments flipped at prices that netted their owners millions. Each new apartment property opened with every unit filled, and hotel occupancy continued to climb.
The freeze on financing for such projects has thawed, and the interest that existed previously — pent-up for five years — now is bursting forth with hotel and housing projects being announced at a pace of once every couple of weeks.
By my count, we're looking at 1,500 or more hotel rooms being added in and around downtown, and at least 1,000 more units of housing being built.
With the city hoping to build a 600-room conference hotel with a planned convention center, one can understand why not everyone at City Hall or the Convention and Visitors Bureau is applauding the rapid expansion of downtown's hotel market.
Likewise, I'm beginning to hear some worrying about the pace of new housing. The question being asked is whether too much, too soon, or opening all at once, can end up being too much of a good thing.
It's an ironic position for Oklahoma City, which couldn't throw enough money at developers to build housing or hotels downtown 20 years ago.
For now, no one is suggesting a moratorium. But some civic leaders are hoping that the quality of these projects can be upheld by the city design review committees, which are tasked with regulating new construction and exterior renovations of existing buildings.
When it comes to housing, the prevailing consensus among those I talk to is that as long as the projects are no more than 250 units each, with at least a few months between each opening, the market seems ready to absorb additional growth. But when a broker comes along with a suggestion a developer might want to build 1,000 units at once, that's when the remainder of the downtown real estate community gets worried.
Such growth, and such worries, is a new dynamic for Oklahoma City — one that leaders 20 years ago surely would have welcomed.