Plentiful land, highway access and new schools boosted suburban growth around Oklahoma City in the last decade as places such as Piedmont and Blanchard became the new boom towns.
But don't discount growth inside Oklahoma City or in established suburbs such as Edmond, Moore and Yukon.
An analysis of census tracts by The Oklahoman shows the biggest population gains in far northwest Oklahoma County and south of Oklahoma City in Moore. Population declines occurred in some parts of core Oklahoma City, as well as older parts of Edmond, Midwest City and Norman.
“To anybody who's been here over the last decade, they probably would not be too surprised by the size of the growth just looking at the number of housing additions that have
About the growth
Census tracts range in population size from 2,000 to 8,000 people, but most average about 4,000 people. They vary in land area because of population density. Barker said the Census Bureau added dozens of tracts in Oklahoma, Cleveland and Canadian counties because of population growth in the last 10 years.
In far northwest Oklahoma County, the once sparsely populated area now has rush-hour traffic snarls as commuters navigate the network of two-lane county roads. New businesses along Memorial Road and the Kilpatrick Turnpike have spurred development in the unincorporated Deer Creek area as well as Piedmont.
Piedmont is working on a comprehensive plan that should be finished later this year, said Clark Williams, city manager. He said the city is taking a “managed growth” approach to the population changes.
Among the new retail development in the area is a Williams grocery store, which is being built south of the intersection of NW 164 and Piedmont Road. The city already has platted areas for more than 2,000 lots for housing, as well as plats for other mixed-use developments for office and retail.
“Every day I'm dealing with a lot of property issues and water and utility issues,” Williams said. “It doesn't take the developers long to get out there and turn dirt. Once they get their approvals, they're quick to throw the stormwater, the drainage, the streets and roads and utility structures. After that, you see the houses going up just as soon as they can get finalized.
“A lot of people like this area because they get away from the congestion and they have a little more open space freedom out here,” Williams said. “Of course, that works both ways, because then you get sprawl. We can guide this growth in order to make the best quality of life possible out here.”
A few neighborhoods inside the core Oklahoma City area showed population gains, including the area just north and northwest of Shepherd Mall on NW 23.
Also showing gains were residential sections of Midtown and Bricktown, as well as the neighborhood around Oklahoma City Community College.
Many neighborhoods south of I-40 and north of I-240 showed gains over the last decade, too.
Farther south, neighborhoods surrounding the intersection of SW 134 and S Pennsylvania Avenue had significant growth.
Meanwhile, dozens of new businesses, both big and small, have opened up along Interstate 35 south of Oklahoma City into Moore.
The Moore Chamber of Commerce has grown to more than 700 members from about 200 in 2003, said Executive Director Brenda Roberts.
Farther south, the city of Blanchard, which straddles Grady and McClain Counties, grew 170 percent and now has more than 7,600 people. It had just 2,816 people in 2000.
Jeremy McGaha, with Pickard Brothers Construction in Blanchard, said the rapid growth in the middle part of the last decade has leveled off. Pickard Brothers builds custom homes that range from 1,800 to 2,200 square feet, he said.
“It seemed like everybody around town wanted to be a builder and build houses,” said McGaha, whose father-in-law Jerry Pickard owns the company. “A lot of them realized it wasn't what they thought and they fizzled out.”
McGaha said Blanchard is well served by major roads and the growth hasn't caused many traffic problems.
“It seems like they wanted to get out of the city,” he said of the new residents. “We're still growing; there's still little businesses popping up here and there.”