TULSA — Tom Wallace's friends warned him against buying and renovating an abandoned warehouse in the Brady District for his engineering firm.
A Spaghetti Warehouse had operated across the street for more than a dozen years as he contemplated the move to 200 E Brady St. in 2004, and the community was home to two classic music venues, the Brady Theater and Cain's Ballroom.
But Wallace's friends saw all the boarded-up buildings and assumed the area was riddled with crime. The Boulder Avenue bridge, a key link between the old warehouse district and the central business district, was closed several years earlier and left to crumble.
“This area was always kind of a diamond in the rough,” Wallace said. “My wife and I came down here on a spring morning in 2004, and we saw people along Main Street putting in flower boxes and watering them. There was something special going on.”
Wallace's friends no longer doubt his investment in Brady.
Monday, more than 100 Tulsans showed up to celebrate the opening of a new Boulder Avenue bridge that is anchored by the historic 99-year-old Brady Theater on the north end and the cutting-edge, five-year-old BOK Center on the south end.
Bob Fleischman, Brady Arts District Association president, admits that even though a bridge one block away provided pedestrians and motorists an alternative entry to the area, few choose to take the detour over the railway tracks when attending events at the 19,199-seat arena.
Fleishman sees the new $8.3 million bridge, and the lure of ample additional parking, as a possible opening for thousands to rediscover the Brady District. And when they cross the bridge with its ornate landscaping and decorative design, they'll discover a neighborhood that has undergone a $200 million transformation over the past couple of years.
New developments include the Brady Fairfield Inn and Suites, which features 11,500 square feet of retail, and the $12 million Metro at Brady Arts District loft apartments.
The area still includes a mix of ongoing light industrial and warehouse operations, and it is not dominated by bars and restaurants as seen in other “old town” warehouse districts. The quaint small violin, glassblowing and pottery shops that operated in Brady long before the area became “cool” again remain firmly planted in their longtime homes.
Cain's and the Brady Theater, meanwhile, remain cherished musical institutions among Tulsans.
Wallace Engineering's immediate neighborhood includes the newly opened $11.8 million home for Griffin Communications and KOTV-6, the two-year-old, $39.2 million ONEOK Field baseball stadium and dozens of new shops and restaurants.