Not so Safeway

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The Safeway/Homeland/ALPS store on the southwest corner of 15th and Lewis has been reduced to a pile of rubble. Redevelopment of that site was tricky -- the lot has two different zones, and the line between the two went right through the middle of the building. It was a strange site design, putting the store in the middle, facing Lewis, with two parking lots, one to the north and one to the south. I guess the lot wasn't wide enough east to west to be able to place the store facing north.

I haven't heard what, if anything, is slated to be built in its place. Whatever it is, it needs to be confined to the existing footprint, without expansion into the neighboring residential area, the Gillette Historic District, which has Historic Preservation (HP) overlay zoning. The quarter-section between 15th and 21st, Utica and Lewis, is already hard-pressed by the expansion of St. John Medical Center.

It would be nice to see a pedestrian-friendly commercial development
take that spot -- a site plan that helps to define that corner by putting the building close to the street, and that provides good, walkable connections to the adjoining neighborhood. A developer might produce such a plan on his own. Even if you don't care for the building on the southwest corner of 21st & Utica, or the Stillwater National Bank building, or the new Arvest Bank building, you have to acknowledge that the developers took a more urban approach to the placement of the buildings than has been typical. It would be better, though, if we made urban, pedestrian-friendly site plans the standard in midtown, as Oklahoma City has done with its older commercial districts. Just as HP zoning protects the investments of homeowners who restore historic homes, an urban conservation district can protect the investments of commercial property owners who try to preserve the urban feel of an older commercial district.


Dave said:

Are these new buildings mixed-use? (specifically, retail below, residential above) I have been out of Tulsa for a while, so I haven't seen much that is new there, but in Austin, the city is really starting to push the mixed-use concept for new developments in east Austin and on south Congress.

In any case, the whole concept of having the buildings next to the road has grown on me, especially after seeing specific areas of Austin (Tulsa, from what I have seen in recent years, is somewhat similar) that have started to look pretty decrepit, with several abandoned buildings far back from the street, along with a huge empty parking lot. (For an example of this development style, check out Wichita's Pawnee Plaza Mall (now gone), circa 1973, at

Does Tulsa have an urban conservation districts already in place? How would one go about establishing one?

Dave, I don't know what's planned for that corner. I'd love to see something like what you're describing. Jamie, Tulsa does not have urban conservation districts or anything of that sort. The closest we have is historic preservation zoning, which can only be applied to residential areas. OKC has had urban conservation districts since the early '80s, so they've got 25 years of experience we can apply here. It will require action by the TMAPC and the City Council to enact urban conservation districts.

Concerned Native Tulsans said:

Do you have any information on what is happening with the old Lowell School, on N. Peoria? I attended there, from kindergarten to 9th grade and am very interested in it. It has some wonderful parts of the building that should be preserved and shows a lot of history about how the schools used to be built (with a paved courtyard in the center).

The A Team said:

I hate to burst your bubble, but I hear this will be a Office Depot. The attack of Big Box chains continues on Cherry St. At this rate, 15th & Lewis will look like 21st and Sheridan in about 10 to 15 years. BTW, there was mixed(residential/commercial) on the corner of 15th & Lewis but the powers that be decided they wanted a huge low-rise 6 lane drive through Bank(Stillwater National) instead.

The A Team said:

Whoops, I meant to type 15th & Utica regarding the mixed use property. I guess I need to work on my self editing skills, sorry.

susan said:

My husband and I used to live in Austin, Texas. I worked close by where they converted old homes into beautiful restaurants -- not chain restaurants! All were successful and beautified the area near home and office areas. Since my husband is an I.T. Director, Austin and the Round Rock area were booming areas and we lived in both Austin and Round Rock. He was so well known in his area of expertise in I.T. that he got to choose where he wanted to live from the companies he worked for. Tulsa has a lot of I.T.
people -- wouldn't it have been better instead of
building the Arena downtown (near the Tulsa World
that as Tulsa World well knows it will boost their property value and it makes front page news of course!) take those same incentives and financial support and have Pelli
build for I.T. businesses INSTEAD that will put thousands of I.T. workers that lost their jobs
in 2002, 2003 back to work instead of an Arena?
Doesn't any remember the ice arena that also was supposed to be popular with shops, food places to eat, ice arena that was never really any big deal at all? People HATE to have to pay for parking or to have a ticket stamped so they can
shop, eat at restaurants, or are forced to park near parking meters downtown. Did you see how many THOUSANDS
of parking tickets the lady that is now retiring
has written that were eating, doing business downtown that did not have ran out of time on their parking meters to get a nice parking ticket? To change the subject back to historical homes in Tulsa,
There are beautiful historical homes on College Street near 2lst street. David Minor purchased an older home at 1516 South Yorktown and converted an old house that needed a lot of repair into a very nice office. I believe he owns right beside it too of which that also was an older home that he renovated into a office on Yorktown beautifying the neighborhood.
I think it should be well publicized if there is
a tax credit or some type of promotion for
historical neighborhoods if the owners will remodel to beautify these homes such as
landscaping, painting, remodelling of the insides
for historic value as well as the outside that have old wood -- this would boost people that
own older homes to maintain them at an incentive.
If the homes are sitting where it looks as though
they have been abandoned -- take the area around
Will Rogers High School. This high school is
historical and beautifully built, but the neighborhood homes across the street could use some help in incentives to maintain their properties better.
Do we have tax incentives of this nature, and if so, please advertise it on this website to beautify more areas in the Tulsa areas.

Concerned Native Tulsans said:

Back to the Lowell school building, on N. The A Team mentions, guess my bubble is burst! Went by the school and found the demolition crew fast at work. Took some photos, just for memories, and spoke with one of the "supervisors" of the crew. I mentioned trying to save the concrete block with the school's name, on the west outside wall of the building, as well as the concrete, art deco, columns on the north end of the building along with their double doors, that led into the "big" gym. He said, "depends on how they fall to the ground and if they are still in one piece". He mentioned that Clayton Vaughn, from the Historical Society, had contacted him regarding saving some parts of the building. The supervisor didn't seem to be especially interested in taking the time to help this preservation effort.
This sort of attitude saddens takes us all a little time, to slow things down somewhat, to preserve our heritage.....and not one of us can do it all alone!
I am hoping those old columns and name block have the stamina and integrity to "fall with grace"....and can be seen later at the Historical Society's Museum!
Are we really asking for too much here?

rte66man said:

As one who spent his summers walking from his grandmother's house at 19th & Lewis (now demolished for the Y expansion) to the Delman, I can remember when there was a small strip center where the Safeway now (did) resides. I don't remember any of the shops except that there was a barbershop in there somewhere. There wasn't much of any outcry when it was torn down for the Safeway as the only grocery store within walking distance was Wolferman's in Utica Square.

I haven't had the opportunity to return in a few years, but I didn't recognize 15th and Lewis at all. Had it not been for the Bill & Ruth's, I wouldn't have recognized anything. Even that was new development (I remember the Phillips 66 that used to be there befor ethe Circle K was built). It's too bad that Lewis has to become commercialized. It was always so unique that there wasn't any commercial development except at the major intersections (at least south of 15th).

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on July 29, 2005 1:51 AM.

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