The view from downtown: Instead of "Vision 2025"


Another great post from jdb over at

He makes a couple of references that may need explaining. Desco is the company that's been given the contract to redevelop the 115-acre "East Village" area. Desco is a St. Louis developer that has mostly done big-box stores. When the Tulsa Development Authority began the process of East Village development, the idea was to use existing buildings and build new ones to create a dense urban fabric, mixing residential, commercial, entertainment, and office uses -- the way downtowns used to be before we bulldozed them using urban renewal and eminent domain. The concern is that Desco will decide they need the loft buildings that jdb and his neighbors inhabit in order to build some huge edifice, and TDA will acquire them for Desco, using eminent domain if necessary. Under that kind of threat, it's hard to think about investing in renovations and improvements to your property.

What I would place of 2025...?

...has been asked of me countless times.

In a nut shell:

Downtown is a small precious area.

The "talk" was for a "walkable" downtown with green space. Vibrant, diverse, sense of community.....

But everything I've seen presented is at odds with this concept: arena's, convention centers, the Desco plan, box stores....all on a bigger is better scale with matching price tags.

Instead, these big places should be out in the city where they have room to grow, more potential for attendance, out where they belong - amoung the Tulsa masses.

Rooftops inside the IDL will never exceed that of the smallest, poorest planned, outer laying areas - there is simply not room enough to do this - even with going up. It should be obvious to anyone who takes the time to think about it.

Downtown should be stuffed with small places that fit inside of the availiable spaces, with green space sprinkled every where inbetween: with what constitutes our skyline as the Hub. Not just three little "special" areas among acres of parking.

The word "space" is important.

A simple bike trail that threads through on it's own painted road lanes.

Vision is something like a light rail above the MKO line that runs down the middle of 51, with a BA car park for a fast ride into downtown and "transportation" once you get here (but maybe something different then what you drive out south)

You don't have to cut a billion dollar check to build a few bikes lanes.

There is only one downtown. It should be vastly different from the rest of the other areas in the city.

Pack this place with roof tops, and small biz. using infill not bull dozers. God knows there are already enough Albertsons and wal-marts to go around. Remove the "target zones" so people feel secure with building something.

And build smart.

Little tiny places everywhere you looked: where one could walk half the day and still not see everything because they have stopped and talked to the local people, they have made a friend, maybe they are excited to come back, maybe they learn something personal like, "Hey I dont have to work for a large company and toil my life away when what I really want to do is make enough money to stay alive while learning yoga, next week they may be learning Bio chemistry (I saw this happen)

Ask yourself, "Where do you feel more special, more valued or important on a human level: at the wal-mart, or at a mom and pop shop that the owners man the till and know your name and ask where the kids are?"

This is not visionary but it sure gets closer to quaility life issues then the mantra of "JOBS JOBS JOBS!"

"Jobs" are important, but this falls into the category of "daily business". And that someone has been remiss in addressing this issue doesn't merit the haste of 2025.

Few people live like we do here in the IDL.

We have keys to each other's homes, step out the back doors and gather in our common area for grilled food stuffs, look after each other's pets and pipes. We work at home, from home, and walk to work when it's elsewhere (can't do that out south, can you?).

We shelter old buildings against the elements of time. (when's the last time someone stopped and asked if they could see the inside of your old home?)
That's all of us not just a few neighbors we select out of a multitude.

Note: Ray's son, Dylan has lived here, inside the IDL all his life. They were among the first wave of "loft hunters" 25 years ago. And that was real "lofts" not apartments built inside an old place to look like lofts.

The city's willy nilly placement of roaming target zones, for the last decade have been keeping people - not bringing them in.

Just one giant reason it's losing ground. The usage of Eminent domain here is another: among many.

Recall what Hudnut said about E.D.? Or did that fall on the deaf ears of the eager at the Summit?

There is already a convention center in Tulsa that is actually bigger then the city was told it should have. And it's where it should be.

How about we keep the small one and book smaller things there - and maybe think about local stuff?

All this finger pointing at other places is juvenile as we are not them and they are not us. Vision would be defining Tulsa - not aping OKC (bless there man-made little ditch)

But anymore I don't know what to believe, except stamping out downtown with the same cookie cutter that's been stamping out everything else around here is wrong. It's the result of a one track mind set: which is not conducive to diversity, sense of community, or is even walkable.

Ok maybe in a BIG nut shell, jdb

It's hard to state one's definition of a "quality life", in just a few words while having to defend them at the same time.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on September 3, 2003 11:37 PM.

We can't trust county government: Keeping the oversight committee in the dark was the previous entry in this blog.

When they say "it's for the children," grab your wallet! is the next entry in this blog.

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