When Debbie Shiflett locks the doors to her shop at closing time, she’s usually doing so on a deserted street.
Debbie’s Barber Shop has been at the same location near the corner of SW 25 and Robinson Avenue in the heart of the Capitol Hill District for the past 25 years.
“We love this spot and we love all of our customers,” Shiflett said. “During the day we are as busy as we can be, but everything clears out after five or so. It’s kinda like a ghost town.”
This is the problem facing the Capitol Hill Main Street Association, says Randy Quiroga-King, chairman of the organization. He knows the largely Hispanic population in the surrounding neighborhoods has to be going somewhere after work. Now he’s trying to figure out how to make their spot a destination for others.
Quiroga-King, publisher of the El Nacional Spanish-language newspaper with offices in Capitol Hill, says revitalization efforts are underway to facilitate a more community-oriented approach that he thinks will draw more businesses and customers back to Capitol Hill.
“We are going through a bit of a renaissance,” he said. “We have a bustling business district with a Hispanic flavor to it. We hope it will be more of a destination point within the city.”
Driving though the heart of the district, it’s easy to see where improvements need to start. Many buildings sit vacant while other more historic ones look beyond repair.
But Quiroga-King said the key to urban renewal is to get the surrounding community interested in spending their time and money back on Main Street.
The construction of the new Capitol Hill Plaza is in the works at SW 25 and Robinson. It will provide a spot for live music, farmers markets and other community events. A new satellite campus for Oklahoma City Community College and plans for more retail shops also should bolster business in the area.