New Boulder Avenue opens up to a revived Brady District in Tulsa
When Tulsans and out-of-town visitors travel along the new Boulder Avenue bridge in Tulsa, they'll discover a changed Brady District that has benefitted from more than $200 million in redevelopment, including the investment of the George Kaiser Family Foundation.
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Brady District has long history
The Brady District is one of Tulsa's oldest neighborhoods. It is named after Wyatt Tate Brady, who arrived in Tulsa in 1890 as a shoe salesman and quickly opened one of the town's first mercantile stores. Brady was one of the original incorporators of Tulsa. He was a longtime Tulsa promoter and developer whose legacy includes the district's famed Cain's Ballroom. To learn more about the Brady District, go to www.thebradydistrict.com.
The view from Wallace's offices also includes Guthrie Green, one of several investments by one of the neighborhood's biggest benefactors, the George Kaiser Family Foundation. The $10.5 million park was just the start of the foundation's investment in the area, and features gardens, a covered pavilion, stage, fountains, trellis and cafe.
“They are without a doubt one of the biggest investors in the area,” Fleischman said. “Guthrie Green is their concept and inception, and they continue to operate it. It is a huge magnet for the area. We've seen people who never thought about coming down here, coming for all types of events. They decided one day to have a food truck session on a Sunday, and for that they drew more than 3,000 people.”
The foundation also redeveloped two buildings — the Robinson Packer Lofts and the Detroit Lofts — and converted the upper floors into affordable housing for visiting Teach for America teachers who work with inner-city kids.
The Detroit Lofts also is set to be home for downtown Tulsa's first grocery: the Archer Market.
The latest projects for the foundation include the $36 million redevelopment of the Matthews Warehouse, which will house galleries of the city's famed Philbrook and Gilcrease art museums and the Hardesty Arts Center. The building also will house the Woody Guthrie archives, which the foundation acquired in 2011.
The foundation's investment in the Brady community so far totals more than $50 million and is one of several Tulsa “zones” being targeted for revival, said Ken Levit, executive director of the George Kaiser Family Foundation.
“Our central mission is early intervention in the cycle of poverty,” Levit said. “As members of the community, we also feel an obligation to help the city grow and prosper. A stronger community helps us achieve our greater goal of economic development.”
Levit noted that most cities enjoying resurgence in the 21st century boast a downtown district with a thriving arts and cultural focus that helps in retaining and recruiting talent.
“We didn't have that in Tulsa a decade ago,” Levit said. “We took a number of shots focused in the region to see if we can make something happen. And with our other partners, we've achieved a lot, and we're overjoyed.”
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