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Urban Renewal changes its habits, public image

by Steve Lackmeyer Published: August 4, 2009

/> And Bullard, who for two decades led city efforts to find a savior for the Skirvin hotel, was a key player in working with Marcus Hotels and Resorts in its much acclaimed restoration.

Encouraging growth
Other reminders of Urban Renewal’s changed approach are a bit more subtle. Commissioners balked when developer Nicholas Preftakes demanded they acquire and raze two duplexes across from the old Mercy Hospital site at NW 13 and Walker before he proceeded with construction of housing.

Destruction of the duplexes could have been justified; one had come very, very close to being declared a public nuisance by the city council and both were considered flop houses by neighbors.

A drive by the two duplexes today shows one renovated and turned into offices (the MidTown Law Center) and renovations underway on the adjoining property.

Both buildings provide a frame for parking behind the now thriving Shops on Walker, which itself consisted of older buildings that could have been torn down in the name of progress.

Not every old building can be saved. Redevelopment of the MidTown area was stunted for years by the blighted Mercy Hospital and only took off once the eyesore was removed by the city (not Urban Renewal).

But when one looks at the track record of the past decade, this Urban Renewal Authority has built a record far different than that of its early years.

by Steve Lackmeyer
Business Reporter
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter and columnist 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 Metropolitan...
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