Envision 240 is already singing planOKC's song.
“Quality retail is essential for quality communities” — that's the refrain.
Envision 240 is the mostly grassroots effort to rethink, reinvest and redevelop Interstate 240 between Interstate 44 and Interstate 35, while planOKC is Oklahoma City's new master planning document, which is in its final stages of adoption. Updates on both were presented Wednesday at the 12th annual Mayor's Development Roundtable at Cox Convention Center.
City planning director Russell Claus talked about retail and housing studies that back planOKC.
The three biggest issues facing retail here, he said, are burgeoning e-commerce, shrinking store sizes and an oversupply of older shopping centers.
Dealing with those must be part of meeting planOKC's broad goals: to sustain robust retail; to attract specialized one-in-a-market stores; and to sustain and rebuild commercial-neighborhood relations.
It's that last part that is most similar to one of Envision 240's most important challenges: encouraging cooperation between retailers and residents wanting more lifestyle retail opportunities as opposed to yet another big-box store.
“It's not just structures and buildings. It is an image. We must change the mindsets of those around us,” said Elaine Lyons, president of the South Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. “We have to make sure a paradigm shift occurs. Specifically, we want people to get up, get out and get connected. We want people to work, stay, play and live in one community.”
City sales tax money and infrastructure, as well as aesthetics, walkability and lifestyle issues, are at stake, Lyons said of the aims of Envision 240, an effort organized by the city, the Urban Land Institute, the South Oklahoma City Chamber and Greater Oklahoma City Chamber.
For example, she said, the city of Moore saw its annual tax receipts grow from $10 million to $50 million between 1992 and 2012, “precious dollars lost to another municipality because our residents went there to shop.”
Revitalizing the I-240 corridor, she said, is important for all of Oklahoma City because of lost sales taxes — but I-240's reputation must change as its appearance improves and its function evolves from a way to get across South Oklahoma City to a way to get to destinations along the Interstate.