Downtown Oklahoma City Inc. was born in 2001 with the best of intentions to better promote the city's center and oversee a business improvement district created to fund maintenance, marketing and security.
In the years since, the organization has had plenty of ups and downs in which it was run by four different directors in its first decade, oversaw the renovation of The Underground pedestrian tunnels, established district branding and also sometimes encountered criticism from various property owners uncertain about its mission and work.
The organization saw its biggest makeover under the current president, Jane Jenkins, who oversaw two staff restructurings and a move from Oklahoma Tower to more visible digs along the atrium at Leadership Square.
Her staff these days is younger and more engaged with the downtown scene, both online with social media and in person, whether at rooftop receptions at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art or gathering at Joey's Pizzeria along Film Row.
Such engagement, in turn, is helping fuel a new wave of improvements long sought by downtown's growing residential community.
Working with the Oklahoma City Planning Department, the organization this month launched Spokies, an operation that allows for bicycle rentals with stations in Bricktown, MidTown, Deep Deuce, the Arts District and the Central Business District.
If the empty racks are any indication, Spokies might just be one of those successful additions that can be grown year after year.
Heeding call for hoops
Another visible effort, one that deviates from the early days of Downtown Oklahoma City Inc., is the recent construction of downtown's first public basketball court at Reno and Hudson avenues southwest of the Myriad Gardens.
Gentry McKeown, communications coordinator for Downtown Oklahoma City Inc., said Jenkins and her staff took note of the community's response to a Nike commercial featuring Thunder star Kevin Durant playing at city-area basketball courts.
While locals loved the story told in the commercial, downtown residents and the online community noted a church parking lot court at NW 23 and Western Avenue was the only public place one can play hoops in the urban core. It was a response not unnoticed by Jenkins and her crew.
With leftover funds from a grant from the Kirkpatrick Foundation, Jenkins successfully worked with downtown property owners Bob Howard, Mickey Clagg and Chris Fleming to erect a court in the heart of the city on a lot that was previously a part of Bob Howard Downtown Ford.
In the time since the court opened earlier this month, it has seen consistent use, especially at night.
McKeown admits the court won't be permanent. The land across the street is slated to be the future site of a new convention center.
But the court is designed so it can be moved and rebuilt elsewhere — a smart move, seeing how downtown continues to change. Anything can happen. The kids and young adults playing basketball on this site now might just have a tower to build there in the decades to follow.
If you go
To learn more about Downtown Oklahoma City Inc., go to www.