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Heritage Hills residents protest upcoming Oklahoma City's MidTown housing development

A group of Heritage Hills residents are challenging plans for a MidTown housing project arguing the $34 million mixed-use development will hurt their neighborhood.
by Steve Lackmeyer Published: January 14, 2012

The prior reviews included an evaluation of each proposed development's density and design compiled by a review committee convened by Urban Renewal. The committee included Steve Jacobi, president of Historic Preservation Inc., the Heritage Hills neighborhood association.

Shafer questioned whether Jacobi took any action to keep residents informed about the development.

At a meeting of upset Heritage Hills residents Thursday night, Jacobi cited minutes of past board meetings indicating he gave updates of the review committee's work and that he asked the board for feedback — a response he said he did not receive.

“People say they're surprised to have four-story buildings on that site,” Jacobi said. “I have no idea why. … I was fairly surprised that people were surprised.”

During the meeting Thursday, residents were unconvinced as they were told that their neighborhood is on a separate power grid from the apartment site and that the neighborhood does not have any water pressure problems.

Some, including Champion in her email, argued that nearby MidTown would not be attractive to developers if not for the efforts of Historic Preservation Inc.'s founders, including Charles Coley, to create stringent preservation requirements for the neighborhood.

“Downtown is where it is because of who we are,” said Carolyn Hubbard, Coley's daughter. “They want to leach off of us.”

Other residents attending Thursday's meeting argued they do not want to see their area school, Wilson Elementary, and their neighborhood park overwhelmed with residents from the apartment complex. The group of about two dozen people also complained they believe the apartments, which will rent for $1,000 a month and up, will bring down property values.

A.J. Winters, a resident of Harvey Lofts in MidTown, about a block east of the project, dismissed the concerns of the Heritage Hills residents. Winters said he bought a condominium at the Harvey Lofts because of the area's emerging urban mix of housing, restaurants and retail. He also noted his property values have gone up even though apartments are located next to the lofts.

“It's not like this project is a low-income housing development,” Winters said. “These are young professionals, the type who eat out four days a week, go out, and want to be part of a vibrant community. … They'll all be buying homes in these surrounding neighborhoods 20 to 30 years from now.”

“More is better in an urban district,” he said. “It is in an urban area. It is part of a restaurant row, where there are units going up down the street, and potentially a hotel.”

by Steve Lackmeyer
Business Reporter
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter and columnist who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's Metropolitan...
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