The Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority is issuing two requests for development proposals that challenge conventional approaches to promoting new downtown housing.
One request issued earlier this month seeks proposals for a lot in Deep Deuce that is just 25 feet by 140 feet — one of the smallest downtown properties put out for development by Urban Renewal in at least the past 20 years.
A second request set to be advertised next week seeks proposals for 60 units of apartments to be added atop a 10-story garage being built south of City Hall next year by the Central Oklahoma Transportation and Parking Authority.
JoeVan Bullard, director of redevelopment programs, said the Deep Deuce request is in response to interest already expressed by homebuilder Ron Walters. The lot along NE 1 west of Russell Perry Avenue, Bullard said, is one of several smaller parcels not included in the much larger Deep Deuce Apartments development completed a dozen years ago.
Bullard said interest is being expressed in similar smaller lots in the area, and more development requests could follow.
The next request, for the housing atop the new garage, will have a short timeline with proposals due by late January.
Cathy O'Connor, Urban Renewal director, said design work is well under way for the 830-space, 10-story garage to be built west of the Hightower Building, 105 N Hudson, immediately east of the city's finance building at 100 N Walker Ave. — between Colcord Avenue and Main Street.
While acknowledging the solicitation requires a quick turnaround on the housing development, O'Connor said multiple established developers have indicated they are prepared to submit bids.
“Building atop the garage will be an opportunity for a developer to go 10 stories up without the cost of getting there,” O'Connor said.
The site of the garage, currently a surface parking lot, is one of the last big blocks of Urban Renewal-owned land left downtown. It's a reversal from a decade ago when large undeveloped “super blocks” remained left over from the major Urban Renewal clearance program of the 1970s.
Those large undeveloped blocks were later redeveloped into the Legacy at Arts Quarter Apartments, Devon Energy Center, and soon, the new John W. Rex Elementary School.
“We don't have the large downtown parcels we once had,” O'Connor said. “We have to get more creative in finding available opportunities.”
We don't have the large downtown parcels we once had. We have to get more creative in finding available opportunities.”
Urban Renewal director