Peter Dolese anticipates that the heart of Oklahoma City will beat more mightily than ever in the next 20 years.
“We will at that point have shifted back into a nucleus of downtown, where there’ll be a lot more ... people living in downtown. It won’t just be young people transitioning in life; it will also be married couples with kids. There’ll be more schools; there’ll be more infrastructure to support family, urban living in downtown,” said Dolese, the executive director of the Arts Council of Oklahoma City.
“Oklahoma City will become one of the go-to places to be anywhere in the country.”
Two decades from now — in 2033 — Oklahoma City will celebrate the 40th anniversary of its renaissance-sparking Metropolitan Area Projects, even as the last incarnation — MAPS 3 — comes to an end. Dolese expects one of the MAPS 3 projects — the proposed 70-acre Core to Shore park between the Central Business District and the Oklahoma River — will be another MAPS game changer for the growing community.
“It will literally be a linchpin, a key area of gathering for Oklahoma City, with concerts going on there like we see right now out at the zoo. I think we’ll see ... more museums and more cultural activities in the downtown area,” Dolese said in an interview at his downtown office, situated on the plaza where the council hosts its annual Festival of the Arts.
Along with the proposed $130 million park, currently set to include a cafe, lake, gardens, fountains and a grand lawn, Dolese expects to see more changes in the air over the next 20 years.
“I think downtown’s skyline is going to look different than it does right now. My prediction would be that there will be two or three more additional large skyscrapers — and big businesses (will) come to our town that may not have even considered coming here 15 or 20 years ago.”
A fitter community
Additional bicycle trails and light-rail commuter trains running across the already-sprawling metropolitan area are additional physical changes he hopes are coming. He predicts parking and fuel will be at a premium, traffic will get heavier, and residents will become more open to interurban alternatives to driving.
If the community embraces biking and walking to public transportation stations, he also anticipates Oklahoma City could become “one of the fittest communities in the country.”
“I think that our transportation system is going to be vastly improved in the next 20 years,” he said. “Even though we’re getting bigger, I think our dependence on public transportation will increase. Like, dramatically. Some people may not even own a car. ... If you could ride your bicycle to the train, take the train to Norman or Guthrie and then get on the bicycle and ride (to your destination), I think it would just be huge. I think bicycle transportation is going to become like it is in Austin.”