If all goes according to plan, all bus operations at the old Union Station downtown are set to move either today or tomorrow to the new Greyhound Station at 1948 E Reno, just east of Reno Avenue and south of the future American Indian Cultural Center.
The implications of this move include the likely redevelopment of the old Union Bus Station (music hall? restaurant? event center?)
The building is in a great spot, has a cool Art Deco design and is big enough with ample parking to accommodate plenty of possible tenants. For now, all we can do is wait for owner Nicholas Preftakes to announce what his ultimate plans are for the Union Bus Station.
Lost in this discussion is how the new Greyhound Station prevented the possibility of the former home of Gary Dale’s BBQ being leased to a strip club. A few years ago I was visiting with a veteran real estate broker who noted that some area strip club operators had been frustrated by zoning laws in trying to establish a strip club downtown or in Bricktown. The former restaurant, a short drive east of downtown and Bricktown, and located along a major Interstate exit, was an attractive alternative according to the broker. He felt confident a deal could be struck.
I’m not totally clear as to what ensued behind the scenes, other than I am aware some city officials were aware of this effort, and were not happy about it. A first-class American Indian Cultural Center was being built (slowly) just south of I-40, and this potential strip club was seen as a potential killer for the struggling nearby 1970s-era motels.
To understand this area, a look at the strip now, and a historic look at its early days (1969) courtesy of www.okctalk.com are worth looking at:
While we don’t know what ultimately happened to the plan to turn the property into a strip club, we do know that city officials did work with Greyhound to move the bus operation to Eastern and Reno. So in this respect, some may see the station as a vast improvement over the alternative.
First, consider that Reno and Eastern is an outpost of motels, truck-stops and a conference center built in the 1970s near the juncture of I-40 and I-35. The motels and conference center are C-grade properties – not great, but not failing either. They are what they are. The truck-stops are in decent shape – not great, not failing either. They have fast food operations, ample parking for trucking, and the motels serve the same market.
A short stretch of industrial properties separate the intersection from Bricktown, downtown and the Oklahoma Health Center. If that industrial stretch didn’t exist, or if it were tackled for redevelopment, this area could be a decent asset for the urban core.
And really, it needs some attention. Because just to the south, on the other side of the Oklahoma River and I-40, is the future American Indian Cultural Center. When it is completed and opened, and seriously, that has to happen, this juncture is going to become increasingly important to the city’s image and tourism market.
Sidewalks, landscaping and some strategic fencing along the industrial stretch of Reno could go a long way in addressing this potential problem.
Sadly, our city hasn’t had a good record with zoning in the past. But really, who cared about the area to begin with? Back in 1969, the industrial yards were already in place, the Oklahoma River (then known as the North Canadian River) was filled with sandbars and junk. It’s amazing the motels were built as well as they were:
Back in 1969, there’s really just one building that can be seen – what was a gas station, then a restaurant, and now home to the Greyhound Station. The question now is what will this area look like in 2029?
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