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.
Some of those families may settle in The Metropolitan, another expansive residential project extending from NW 6, north along Oklahoma Avenue, which will link Bricktown and Deep Deuce to Automobile Alley.
Downtown OKC and others who have noticed that you still can’t buy groceries in the core business district are hopeful that new residents’ attendant demand for services will further round out downtown’s livability.
Oklahoma City has some 3,900 residential units downtown — counting condos for sale — and another 2,000 are in the works, according to Price Edwards & Co.’s year-end multifamily market summary, compiled and prepared by broker David Dirkschneider.
Downtown construction accounts for more than 60 percent of apartment construction for the whole metro area, Dirkschneider reported.
That construction is the only thing that came to Jennifer Upton’s mind when pressed about the drawbacks of living downtown.
“But I just remember that’s the short-term cost of long-term improvements,” she said.
Ultimately, the growing pains she and other residents experience in plowed-up downtown streets are not enough to offset the positives of living there.
“I love the fact that my new backyard is The Myriad Gardens,” she said. “And that I don’t have to mow it.”
Some key downtown residences include:
•The Edge Apartments, NW 13 and Walker.
•Midtown Apartments, NW 10 and Shartel.
•Mosaic, NE 2 and Oklahoma Avenue.
•Sieber Hotel Apartments, NW 13 and Harvey.
•Guardian Lofts, 1117 N Robinson Ave.
•1212 Building, 1212 N Walker Ave.
•Hadden Hall, 215 NW 10.
•Cline Building, 230 NW 10.
•5th Avenue Lofts, 601 N Broadway.
•Block 42, 301 NE 4.
•Carnegie Centre, 131 Dean A. McGee Ave.
•Central Avenue Villas, 444 Central Ave.
•City Place, 204 N Robinson Ave.
•Deep Deuce at Bricktown, 314 NE 2.
•Avana Arts District, 301 N Walker Ave.
•LEVEL Urban Apartments, 123 NE 2.
•Park Harvey Apartments, 200 N Harvey Ave.
•Sycamore Square, 601 Robert S. Kerr
•The Hill, 322 NE 2.
•The Maywood, 425 N Oklahoma Ave.
•The Montgomery, 500 W Main St.
•The Regency, 333 NW 5.