City Weighs Urban Renewal Plan for Midtown
By Gabriel Circiog, Associate Editor
On June 19, the executive director of the city Urban Renewal Authority, Catherine O’Connor, formally presented a staff report on the plan to the agency’s commissioners.
Dubbed the Midtown Urban Renewal Plan, the proposal would permit the agency to enter into participation agreements with Midtown property owners to encourage them to redevelop their properties. Redevelopment has revitalized Midtown since 1998, when the city adopted the blueprint, known as the North Downtown Redevelopment Plan.
However, the Urban Renewal Authority contends that the changes are necessary in order to alleviate what it regards as blighted conditions.
Highlights of the proposal include:
• Adding structured parking to expand parking options
• Identifying key sites for development
• Identifying benefits the proposed streetcar will create through examining its potential routes
• Supporting rights-of-way, parks and other public spaces
• Enhancing the area as a vibrant, urban neighborhood
• Supporting the Oklahoma City University School of Law, the St. Anthony Hospital and its campus
In the next stage of the process the plan will then be presented to the Planning Commission and City Council for review and approval. The Urban Renewal Authority has hired Butzer Gardner Architects to provide urban planning consulting services. Authority staff members and Butzer Gardner held multiple meetings with the city planning department, stakeholder groups and the public to elicit feedback on redevelopment issues.
The current redevelopment policy originated in October 1997, when the city declared the area bounded by N.W. 13th Street on the north, the railroad on the east, N.W. 4th Street on the south and Classen Boulevard on the west to be blighted. In June 1998, the city adopted the North Downtown Redevelopment Plan in order to boost the area in the wake of the A.P. Murrah Federal Building bombing and to encourage St. Anthony’s Hospital to remain in the area.
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