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Move to downtown Oklahoma City is satisfying to new residents

By TIM FALL For The Oklahoman, Modified: February 21, 2014 at 6:08 pm •  Published: February 22, 2014

With a family business that was sending Jennifer and J.D. Upton pinballing around the metro area on a daily basis, the couple decided in 2011 that they needed to spend way less time in their cars and way more time enjoying the best Oklahoma City had to offer.

Looking for a new home, a few items topped the Uptons’ priorities list: a central location, great views, reduced property maintenance and less square footage of living space to manage.

Moving from Mustang to Centennial Lofts at Bricktown, 200 S Oklahoma Ave., was, Jennifer Upton said, a move full of surprises — “all of them good.”

Three years into their new urban life, the Uptons don’t regret the move.

The Uptons, owners of the smart home technology firm Onyx Theaters, 219 W Wilshire Blvd., cited “walkability,” “access to the arts” and “the enthusiasm down here during Thunder games” as some of the most gratifying aspects of living downtown.

It’s also been gratifying that several friends — both from around the city and out of state — have followed the Uptons to downtown addresses.

Jane Jenkins, president and CEO of Downtown OKC Inc., said she is encouraged by the “healthy” residential growth downtown, “because that’s just one more sign of a healthy downtown overall.” The not-for-profit organization was created in 2000 to manage and market the Business Improvement District.

Residential developers are planting their stakes in and around the business district, encouraged by the success of existing downtown residences and quite possibly by findings like those in a recent survey of downtown residents, 95 percent of whom said they are “satisfied” with their decision to move downtown.

In the same survey, conducted by Downtown OKC, 76 percent of residents surveyed agreed that “downtown is clean” and 86 percent said “downtown is safe.”

A.J. Kirkpatrick, the organization’s director of operations, said that an “aggressive buildout” of downtown’s residential capacity is under way.

In addition to new residential units “extending the urban fabric” around Bricktown (the Steel Yard project) and Deep Deuce (where Mosaic is a new neighbor to developer Richard McKown’s LEVEL apartment complex), Kirkpatrick said that there are “still lots of opportunities” west of the central business district.

The anticipated fall 2014 opening of John Rex Charter Elementary School, on S Walker Avenue, will “make living downtown easier if you have children” and, Kirkpatrick predicted, make the area even more popular among families.

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