Fort Worth and Charlotte, N.C., are a few years ahead of Oklahoma City with urban redevelopment projects similar to what's going on here. A special meeting of the Oklahoma City Council this month will be an opportunity for local civic leaders to hear about how lessons learned in those cities can help with long-term planning in the metro.
The special meeting has its genesis in Oklahoma City Councilman David Greenwell's trip to Fort Worth in April. The Urban Land Institute organized the trip, which highlighted the ongoing urban redevelopment projects in town.
Greenwell said he was impressed by what he learned and thought it presented an opportunity for his colleagues to learn what to expect, and things that worked and didn't work in Fort Worth.
“Fort Worth, culture-wise, I think it's safe to say is similar in some respects to Oklahoma City,” Greenwell said. “It's just an opportunity to learn from that.”
The meeting, set for 8:30 a.m. Sept. 18 at Oklahoma City Community College, will begin with a presentation from Fort Worth officials before a presentation by their counterparts from Charlotte. Greater Oklahoma City Chamber President Roy Williams will follow with a talk on what the chamber has learned from a series of visits to other cities in recent years.
Oklahoma City Planning Department Director Russell Claus has helped to organize the meeting and said it presents an intriguing opportunity for the council.
The city has spent lots of time planning urban redevelopment projects such as MAPS 3 and big ideas such as Core to Shore, but is early in the process compared to Fort Worth and Charlotte. As local leaders look into the future as they devise plans, it's helpful to learn from a city that's “already there,” he said.
“I believe that there is a lot to learn from these cities, and hopefully ideas will come out of the discussion at the council meeting that we can then act on,” Claus said. “Everybody does things a little differently, and there are always things to learn from somewhere else.”
An example of something that's already happened in Fort Worth that is under way now in Oklahoma City is the realignment of an interstate highway and building a new pedestrian-friendly boulevard as part of efforts to revitalize the area near downtown, Greenwell said.
As Oklahoma City finishes demolishing the old Interstate 40 and begins to replace it with the downtown boulevard, city council members can hear firsthand what the results have been somewhere else.
“I just really think there's a lot of really good things to be learned, and that everybody will walk away from the meeting taking different parts of it as being important to them,” Greenwell said.