A large portion of northeast Oklahoma City centered at NE 23 and Martin Luther King Avenue was declared “blighted” Tuesday by the Oklahoma City Council after the panel received a new study showing the area is struggling with high unemployment and crime, plummeting home ownership, unsafe conditions and crumbling buildings and infrastructure.
The blight declaration allows the Urban Renewal Authority to pursue a redevelopment plan for an area bounded by Phillips Avenue, Sooner Road, NE 36 and NE 20. City officials also have indicated their focus will be on commercial properties, not residential, and will concentrate on a one-half mile area surrounding NE 23, N Kelley Avenue, N Martin Luther King Avenue, and Interstate 35.
Assistant Planning Director Ian Colgan told the city council the Northeast Renaissance Renewal Area study looked at whether the area met four conditions for blight — dilapidation, arrested economic development, unsafe conditions, deterioration of site or other improvements. In all four cases, the area was found to be blighted.
Population, Colgan said, dropped by 11.1 percent between 1990 and 2000 and by 4.8 percent between 2001 and 2010. Citywide population, meanwhile, grew 13.8 percent during the first 10 years and 14.6 precent during the second decade surveyed.
“In total, about 2,500 people left the study area in those two decades,” Colgan said.
The study also revealed that in 1990, the area still enjoyed a high percentage of homeownership, with 66 percent owning homes in the study area compared to 59 percent citywide. But in the past 20 years, homeownership dropped to 50 percent for the study area, while citywide homeownership increased to 61 percent.
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