By Cathy O’Connor, president of The Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City.
The beginning of a new year gives us the opportunity to look ahead to upcoming projects and their potential impact on our city. And thanks to Oklahoma City residents, the passage of MAPS 4 will also help to buoy our economy and fund public projects that have great potential to spur private development and investment.
2020 will keep us very busy at The Alliance for Economic Development, with projects in several parts of the city. In Northeast OKC, we will begin construction on the Homeland store at NE 36 and Lincoln in the spring. With approximately 30,000 square feet, the store will offer organic fruits and vegetables, freshly baked breads, a custom butcher shop and fresh, ready-to-eat deli foods for neighbors in one of our city’s worst food deserts.
The Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority, managed by The Alliance, acquired the 1926 Lyons Mansion in Deep Deuce last year to ensure its preservation. The Oklahoma City Redevelopment Authority, another entity managed by The Alliance, purchased another historic black landmark, the Brockway Center. Located at 1440 N. Everest, this building served as the local office for a women’s organization dedicated to black civil rights. Both of these buildings will be thoughtfully redeveloped into places that once again bring people together and contribute to our growing economy. These projects are part of The Alliance’s goals to increase historic preservation and support key neighborhoods across Oklahoma City.
In private development downtown, 2020 will bring the beginning of construction of Boulevard Place, a mixed-use development directly east of the Omni Hotel. Construction will also start on 700 West, a 4-story development at 4th and Shartel that will feature approximately 300 apartments, with a mix of market rate and affordable units. We will be making progress on development of other OCURA owned land downtown as well, including parcels at 4th and EK Gaylord and 3rd and Walnut.
This year we’ll begin contemplating the future development of the Cox Convention Center site. The site is currently four full city blocks and may be divided, returning the street grid and circulation throughout the site.
Finally, I’m looking forward to implementation of the Innovation District Land Use and Strategic Development Plan. The idea is to transform the suburban style campus of the Oklahoma Health Center and Research Park into an Innovation District where entrepreneurship can flourish, interaction can happen, and where people can congregate, collaborate and network in order to share ideas, leading to new companies, inventions and breakthroughs in technology. Ultimately, the goal is for the district to become an economic development driver, including bringing jobs and amenities to the underserved neighborhoods adjacent to the district.
Innovation Hall is imagined as a location with co-working space and meeting rooms where workers can meet to collaborate and share ideas. It will be the place where community members come to gather and where school groups experience STEM educational programming. The Henrietta B. Foster Center will be redeveloped into a Minority Small Business and Entrepreneurship Center. Renovations to Booker T. Washington Park and enhanced connectivity elements will weave the assets together and transform the area into a greater economic engine.
The implementation of the plan will align target industry sectors, prioritize infrastructure investment, establish an economic strategy, and leverage public-private partnerships.
This will be an active and exciting year for development in Oklahoma City with more opportunities to share our aspirations and dreams for the city. I look forward to sharing more plans and developments in the coming months.