Envision 240 leaders are looking south for a glimpse of a possible future for the Interstate 240 corridor.
They're encouraging property and business owners along I-240 between I-44 and I-35 to get aboard — literally. A bus tour of the Camp Bowie District in Fort Worth, Texas, is tentatively set for March 28.
The Fort Worth district, along Camp Bowie Boulevard, “is dedicated to beautification projects ... promoting and driving traffic to its businesses, spurring economic development, and hosting special community events such as the Fort Worth Music Festival, Camp Bowie Christmas, Glory Days Classic Car Show and more.” See the website at campbowiedistrict.com.
Envision 240 is the now yearlong effort by Urban Land Institute Oklahoma, the South Oklahoma City of Commerce and the Oklahoma City Planning Department to consider ways to rejuvenate retail business and improve the appearance of the 4-mile stretch of I-240.
It started with meetings of business and community leaders and representatives of adjacent neighborhoods that led to a study, available at www.okc.gov/planning/envision240/reports.html.
Now, promoters are working specifically with property and business owners “to find out what their needs are, to dive into the ULI (Urban Land Institute) report more, to see if there's an opportunity to move forward,” said Elaine Lyons, president of the South Oklahoma City Chamber.
Consultant Tom Gray of Smith & Gray Co. in Edmond said the formation of a business improvement district or tax increment financing district would be helpful in coordinating and funding any organized effort. Gray is working with Vince Howi, Smith & Gray project manager. Kim Cooper-Hart, urban planner with the Oklahoma City Planning Department, said the aim is to have a steering committee in place by June.
The Envision 240 report outlined three goals:
• “Re-tenant the area's viable big- and mid-box stores. Large vacant spaces don't leave a good impression on residents or potential new tenants. Plus, they aren't generating income for the building owner to make improvements or repairs.”