A couple of years ago it appeared as if the downtown housing market had hit a standstill. For-sale housing was certainly dead, and rental housing was being built at a pace just a fraction of what had been forecast a decade earlier.
But if anyone needed a reminder that those days are over and the housing boom is back on again, look no further than the latest person to buy a downtown home — Thunder star Kevin Durant.
What could have attracted the guy to downtown when he already had a home in the gated luxury Gaillardia neighborhood?
Downtown is certainly alive with hip restaurants and an increasing number of retail shops.
The first walls are going up now for the new downtown John W. Rex Elementary, Native Roots Market is hitting its targets in its first year open, and momentum for housing has clearly been on the uptick this last year.
Long-delayed projects like the Carnegie, a conversion of the old downtown library at Robinson and Dean A. McGee Avenues into 19 apartments, are underway. Construction is set to start soon on the conversion of empty floors into 30 apartments in the Mideke Building at Oklahoma Avenue and Main Street in Bricktown.
Construction is well underway on the $36 million, 250-unit The Edge at NW 13 and Walker in MidTown. And the Midtown Renaissance Group is close to finishing construction on their latest residential project at 430 NW 12. And if leasing activity at the developers' other projects, including Hadden Hall, the Cline and 1212 N Walker are any indication, the 26 apartments at 430 NW 12 likely will fill up fast.
Richard McKown, meanwhile, is starting construction on the Mosaic, a 97-unit complex just west of his first project, Level Urban Apartments. McKown also is planning to develop more apartments to the east of Level at NW 3 and Walnut.
Ron Bradshaw, one of the earliest of the Deep Deuce developers, is wrapping up construction on the 139-unit 4th Street Apartments at NW 4 and Oklahoma, and is preparing to build a second 160-unit complex to the immediate east.
Bradshaw also is preparing to build more housing on lots left undeveloped among the Brownstones at Maywood Park.
The list goes on; construction is set to start this next year on the 250-unit east Bricktown apartments on the former site of Stewart Metal Fabrication. And plans for yet another large complex will be unveiled later this week for the corner of NW 8 and Oklahoma by the Houston-based Bomasada Group.
Add in at least a couple more developments that aren't ready to be announced, and the housing construction downtown is set to top 1,000 apartments and for-sale homes.
Not mentioned in this list so far is The Hill, a for-sale housing development that has long been the quiet underdog among the various projects. As I reported last week, sales that started out slow have turned brisk, and the developer, Bill Canfield, is pretty much selling the town homes as fast as they get built. And when The Hill is complete, it will add 155 owner-occupied homes into Deep Deuce.
So everything was going great before Durant bought two of The Hill units and pulled a building permit to convert them into one 7,400-square-foot residence. Did downtown and Deep Deuce need the Thunder star to light up interest in living downtown? Absolutely not.
But with one of the NBA's brightest superstars living in the neighborhood, an elementary set to open and downtown events and amenities creating unprecedented interest in living downtown, the projects we're seeing now may just be the start of even more ambitious housing development to come.