Plans being released this week show an Uptown Market will anchor the recently announced $30 million King’s Crossing development at NE 23 and Martin Luther King Avenue, while other tenants will include at least one national retailer and a medical complex.
Susan Binkowski, who runs Esperanza Real Estate, the property division for Buy For Less, Uptown Market and Super Mercado, will provide an update on the project Wednesday at the annual Mayor’s Development Roundtable.
Binkowski credited Studio Architecture and urban planning consultant Blair Humphreys with inspiring a development she hopes will become a community gathering spot for northeast Oklahoma City and downtown residents.
“As we have started to lay out the master development, we’ve seen the store rising up out of the ground as an Uptown Market,” Binkowski said. “It has more with how we go to market and the different services we feel this community needs.”
The Buy For Less chain has leased a 52-year-old building at 2001 NE 23 for the past three years after buying the existing grocery from the property owner, Grady Delling. The chain purchased the 18,000-square-foot building and adjoining property last fall, and in March Binkowski announced plans to replace it with a 49,000-square-foot store that will be the first new grocery for northeast Oklahoma City in a half century.
Ward 7 Councilman John Pettis, who made securing a new, modern grocery for northeast Oklahoma City one of his top goals, called the announcement “historic” and pledged support to create a tax increment finance district to support the development of the NE 23 commercial corridor. Construction is set to begin this winter, with the grocery to open a year later.
Hank Binkowski, the chain’s owner, started the Uptown Market concept in 2012 in Edmond, and earlier this year announced a second Uptown would anchor a development in The Village. The couple have overseen a transformation of all their stores that included a management training program and a focus on providing customers with a quality shopping experience.
The new Uptown Market will, like the Binkowskis’ other stores, include community events, live music and cooking and health classes.
“It’s changed the culture of our company, and it’s been intentional,” Binkowski said of the introduction of the Uptown concept. “There’s a better way to do business. It really is about the ministry of the work. Our people will tell you they feel called to do this. It’s that intangible thing that happens that you can’t put your finger on – it’s that people feel loved there, it’s a place where people can feel engaged with the experience of food that you don’t have in your traditional grocery.”
The grocery will be built just east of the current Buy For Less at NE 23 and Martin Luther King Avenue, allowing the operators to open one right after they close the old store. The switch to Uptown Market, however, will not come with a price increase over what customers now pay at the Binkowski’s existing Buy For Less.
“Kraft Macaroni and Cheese is the same at Buy For Less, Super Mercado (the chain’s Hispanic grocery stores) and Uptown,” Susan Binkowski said.
Binkowski said future announcements will include the addition of a second tenant, which she described as a nationally known major retailer; an education component; and an 18,000-square foot medical complex. Plans also include retail with upstairs apartments that might allow for live-work tenants, and space designed for start-up retail entrepreneurs.
The designs by Studio, which include input by Humphreys, include community space for performances and gatherings.
“I have to give Blair Humphreys a big kudos and also to Studio Architecture to putting a flavor to this development,” Binkowski said. “From every corner there is visibility, opportunity to interact, to see and to be seen. We will have green space for the community to get together that will belong to this community. We want them to own this space, to feel free to have a soul food fest, a concert, and be a springboard for whatever is missing from the community.”