Blair Humphreys is executive director of the Institute for Quality Communities. He also is an assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma College of Architecture and son of developer and former Oklahoma City Mayor Kirk Humphreys.
Q. What will the biggest change be in the Oklahoma City metro area?
A. Movement. The ways people in Oklahoma City connect the dots between home, work and quality-of-life amenities will shift as new transit connections are introduced. Key nodes like the Central Business District, Tinker Air Force Base, Edmond and Norman will provide convenient connections that challenge the current dominance of commuting by car. Related to this, people in households with fewer cars will walk and bike more, choosing housing locations based on the proximity of amenities like restaurants, grocery stores and neighborhood retailers.
Q. Will there be physical changes? If so, what will they look like?
A. Intensity. The physical changes in the city will be most apparent in terms of the density of new development as part of the redevelopment and infill of the city center, but we will also continue to see rapid growth along the city’s edge. Transit access in the city center will free development from the limitations of surface and structured parking, creating a virtuous cycle of rent growth and increases in quality-of-life offerings. And it will bring about a rapid increase in local quality-of-life amenities, including more restaurants, stores, festivals, galleries and creative enterprises than anyone can keep up with. Even still, on the city’s edge, farmland will continue to be converted into subdivisions and new suburban retail developments will do their best to fabricate the shopping experience of the city center with a steadfast commitment to free surface parking.
Q. Where is the most potential?
A. Coordination and focus. Oklahoma City’s greatest potential lies in coordinating large public investments like transit with local infrastructure and land-use policies. Such an approach will empower citizens to actively transform the city one block at a time. Different neighborhoods and districts will require a different approach to the oversight of infrastructure and development — we can’t afford a one-size-fits-all approach.