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OKC Central: NW 10 and Robinson is example 'placemaking'

Steve Lackmeyer: Downtown Oklahoma City is a prime example of the new buzzword ‘placemaking.'
by Steve Lackmeyer Published: May 14, 2013

/articleid/3809599/1/pictures/2052740">Photo - The new "green" rooftop at the Packard Building features an expansive view of the downtown skyline. <strong>Provided by Packard's American Grill</strong>
The new "green" rooftop at the Packard Building features an expansive view of the downtown skyline. Provided by Packard's American Grill

A place was made.

Placemaking, however, doesn't require massive public spending. Consider that developers Bob Howard, Mickey Clagg and Chris Fleming have recast NW 10 and Robinson as one of the most interesting, vibrant and visually intriguing corners downtown.

They took the building at 201 NW 10 — the one that remained boarded up for at least 30 years — and reintroduced its history as a former Packard car dealership.

They placed a neon sign at the corner, and they restored large storefront window openings that were used to show of the once-proud automobiles.

The building is home to an art and wine shop, offices and Packard's American Grill — a restaurant operated by the same folks who own The Interurban restaurants.

The developers also bought the neighboring Guardian garage, itself a victim of years of neglect, and turned it into a mix of housing, with Hal Smith's The Garage hamburger restaurant set to open on the first floor.

An alley (historically known as Park Place) between the two buildings could have been left as just that — a hiding place for trash bins and junk. Instead, Howard and his partners hired architect Bryan Fitzsimmons to turn the alley into a lighted courtyard — a design that hearkens back to the early 1900s.

A more modern rooftop garden, meanwhile, was opened atop the Packard Building.

The apartments are full, the commercial and office space are pretty much leased out. A place has been made — one that offers far more excitement and interest than a typical strip shopping center or apartment complex along Memorial Road.

The Park Place alley and rooftop patio may be seen by some as frivolous — as frivolous as the Bricktown Canal. But they change a community's view of itself, and provide a unique gathering spot where bigger dreams can be realized.

by Steve Lackmeyer
Business Reporter
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter, columnist and author who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's...
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