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Tulsa's downtown development reflects pride of those involved

History, architecture lead to differences in development in Oklahoma City's Bricktown, Tulsa's Brady Arts District.
by Steve Lackmeyer Published: February 12, 2013
/articleid/3754402/1/pictures/1950985">Photo - The new Fairfield Inn and Suites is located across the street from The Tavern, one of the oldest restaurants in the Brady District. <strong>Steve Lackmeyer</strong>
The new Fairfield Inn and Suites is located across the street from The Tavern, one of the oldest restaurants in the Brady District. Steve Lackmeyer

Consider that the new Fairfield Inn and Suites in Brady boasts an all-brick facade and a first floor dedicated to retail — urban amenities not included with any of the new hotels built anywhere in downtown Oklahoma City to date.

The Fairfield Inn, without any urban design ordinance to say otherwise, could have been built with a traditional stucco facade and suburban setback from the street.

Pride is standard

I asked Bob Fleischman, Brady Arts District Association president, to explain why the Fairfield Inn, the neighboring Metro at Brady Apartments, and other newer downtown Tulsa developments might have exceeded design and development standards in downtown Oklahoma City.

After a bit of discussion, the difference, it appears, comes down to property owners. It's a question of hometown pride and vision.

A tour of the two downtowns might lead one to speculate that Tulsa always has had the edge when it comes to pride in architectural design.

Tulsa's Art Deco heritage is well regarded worldwide, while the only international acclaim for downtown Oklahoma City architecture to note was for Stage Center. That theater, closed for the past two years, is being targeted for demolition and future redevelopment.

Such a historical comparison also is compromised by what remains of the buildings erected by the original town fathers in the two cities. Tulsa had its own urban renewal program, but it never called for the widespread demolition of hundreds of buildings that took place in Oklahoma City.

But look again at downtown Tulsa. The redevelopment is certainly a bit slower, and the comparisons are a bit challenging, but the difference in pride is beginning to show.

by Steve Lackmeyer
Business Reporter
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter, columnist and author 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...
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