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Oklahoma City seeks to recreate downtown retail corridor on Park Avenue

Downtown Oklahoma City lost its Main Street retail corridor during the Urban Renewal era of the 1960s and 1970s as civic leaders unsuccessfully purused development of a “Galleria” shopping mall. A half century later, the city is seeking to re-establish a retail corridor along Park Avenue.
by Steve Lackmeyer Modified: February 5, 2014 at 6:00 pm •  Published: February 4, 2014

Ian Colgan, the city’s Urban Redevelopment Division Manager, cautions that recasting Park Avenue as a retail corridor won’t be quick or easy. But he believes the street has the best shot at becoming the retail corridor demanded by locals and visitors. Park Avenue is home to Floral and Hardy Florist, a Thunder team store, B.C. Clark Jewelers, and a gift shop operated by Feed the Children.

Long time coming?

The Central Business District has not had a retail corridor since the 1960s, when Main Street between Broadway and Walker Avenue was home to several theaters, John A. Brown’s Department Store, a Zale’s Jewelry store, clothing stores, shoe stores, coffee shops and restaurants.

The buildings were acquired by Urban Renewal and demolished, and Main Street itself was removed as the city pursued development of a Galleria shopping mall. That dream went unrealized, and the former shopping corridor now is the site of two parking garages and Devon Energy Center.

Colgan said the Central Business District has failed to develop a new retail corridor despite a growing workforce, several hotels, and venues that include the Myriad Gardens, a library and convention center. Park Avenue, meanwhile, has a string of storefronts at First National Center, City Place Tower, Robinson Renaissance and other buildings that, with upcoming street improvements, can be better promoted as a unified shopping corridor.

“The Central Business District has lacked a cohesive and concentrated retail and dining component since Main Street radically transformed decades ago,” Colgan said. “It’s an under-served market both in terms of demand and in comparison with other cities. This is a perfect place to create a confluence of retail and dining opportunities.”

by Steve Lackmeyer
Business Reporter
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter and columnist 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 Metropolitan...
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At a glance

Deadline set for proposals

Consultants will have until March 7 to submit proposals to complete a study of enhancing Park Avenue between Harvey Avenue and Broadway as a retail corridor. The request for proposals asks that the consultants create a plan to guide future city involvement, examine the potential of making Park Avenue an upgraded urban retail street capable of capturing existing and future demand, drive higher sale tax revenue and become a “great street” that enhances prominence and desirability of the Central Business District.

One consultant will be tasked with advising how to recruit and sustain retail and what kind of space will be needed. A design consultant will be hired to assist the city and partners in creating a supply of well designed retail spaces within existing buildings, utilize outdoor plazas as amenities, streamline building improvements with planned street improvements as part of Project 180, and integrate other components such as signage, awnings and way finding.


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