A “hotel and motel liquidation sale” that began two decades ago at 519 NW 23 is about to come to an end as the block is targeted for redevelopment into an upscale shopping center.
Johnathan Russell, president of Land Run Commercial Real Estate, is eyeing conversion of the worn-out shopping center and surrounding block at NW 23 and Walker Avenue. Over the past few months, his acquisitions included a mid-20th century former Texaco station at 2425 N Walker Ave. and a nightclub at 2415 N Walker Ave.
He confirmed in an interview with The Oklahoman that he has a contract to buy the Hotel and Motel Liquidators shopping center with a closing set for next month.
“We saw opportunity; we saw demand,” Russell said. “We felt like this could have a major impact on the area. The property is situated dead center in Paseo, Jefferson Park, Heritage Hills and Mesta Park. It connects MidTown to Paseo. It's between the Capitol and OCU (Oklahoma City University). It's pivotal.”
Russell expects renovations to begin this winter, with completion set for mid-2013. His redevelopment of the block, which he has started to present to surrounding neighborhoods, calls for a mix of restaurants and shops.
Renderings created by TAP Architecture show storefronts still facing NW 23 but with a new facade facing what is now an alley that runs east and west to the north of the shopping center.
Architect Anthony McDermid said the block is in dire need of a makeover.
“The 23rd Street elevation has evolved over the decades into something that looked dated and clumsy,” McDermid said.
“Our design philosophy was to go back, turn the clock back, and do something more elegant and more authentic compared to what was there originally. What was there originally was predominantly storefront glass and awnings. And that's what we intend to bring back on 23rd Street side.”
McDermid said the alley side will serve as a main entrance for the larger shops, with a second story addition allowing for potential rooftop dining.
“What's exciting is the opportunity to punch holes in the alley walls and activate the north side of the building so it can relate to the off-street parking.”
The shopping center will span 40,000 square feet once the renovation is complete. Russell said he already has enough interest from restaurants and traditional retailers to more than fill the building, and he is trying to sort through prospective tenants to create what he hopes will be the right mix to draw pedestrian traffic from surrounding neighborhoods.
The shopping center will be called “The Rise” to reflect what Russell sees as the positive direction of NW 23 between the Capitol and OCU.
Russell credits his interest in the project to previous investments in the area by restaurant operators Keith and Heather Paul, who own Cheever's and Tucker's and who recently bought and are renovating the former home of Tull Overhead Door, 3110 N Walker Ave.; Chris Lower, who helped make the strip trendy with the addition of Big Truck Tacos and Mutt's (a specialty hot dog eatery); and Mike Tharasena, who worked with architect Brian Fitzsimmons in turning some aging bungalows into the 23rd Street Courts (home of Cuppies and Joes, Bubba's Barbeque and other shops).
“This area is on the way up,” Russell said.
“Their success has made a project of this magnitude possible.”