Getting to the core of the matter

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Back in August, in an Urban Tulsa Weekly column, I wrote about the reaction to a set of five modest proposals (the CORE proposals) to address historic preservation in downtown Tulsa.

TulsaNow has put together a compelling seven-minute video in support of downtown historic preservation. Click the play button below to watch:

The video's narrator (I think it's TulsaNow board member Sarah Kobos) mentions that Tulsa is second in the country for the percentage of its downtown devoted to surface parking lots. (Who's number one? And if we try hard, can we catch up? ;) ) Take a look at the map below (click to enlarge), and you won't doubt it for a minute:

The video spotlights some of the dramatic architecture seen on and inside historic downtown Tulsa buildings, but it also rightly points out the importance of modest older buildings to downtown's revitalization. Of the 30 restaurants and nightclubs open on evenings and weekends in downtown (not including the ones in the hotels), 28 of them are in older buildings. Older buildings provide an affordable incubator for new businesses.

The only point that I might have added to the video is one I made in my column on the topic: that the large amount of public investment in downtown, specifically for the purpose of downtown revitalization, makes it reasonable for the public to protect its investment by putting in place these moderate historic preservation measures.

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TulsaNow says the Oil Capital has enough asphalt, and has a map to prove it: for instance, Cincinnati between 10th and 13th is an almost-uninterrupted stretch of parking lots. From the CORE proposals [link to PDF file]: Surface parking lots... Read More


Paul Tay said:

Ya know, Bates, I am REALLY sick of talkin' Downtown as if it's like the center of the whole UNIVERSE of Tulsa concerns. Let market, the pros, figure it out. If anybody wants to get crass and tawdry, NOBODY bothered to save Black Wall Street. I find OSU-Tulsa, even for all its good, very offensive to Tulsa history. It's like everytime I have to visit, there's all manner of "entities" in wailing protest.

Roy said:

Problem is, Paul, others choose to spend my money as if downtown were the center. Kinda hard to entirely avoid discussion. In fact, have to go thru that discussion in order to get to what I heartily agree with you as a solution: let the market sort it out.

With that last in mind, I wonder if someone could parley all that parking space into a commercial plus?

Paul Tay said:

Apparently, Roy, the market already has got Downtown dialed in. Parking spaces ARE the killer app. They are cheap to build. Lotsa repeat customers.

I once checked into the Camelot Hotel as an investment opp. Guess why I opted out? Just to tear it down would have cost almost HALF askin' price. Asbestos. Parking lot or garage might have made sense. But, there's not enough parking-generating businesses within walking distance.

A much more risky approach might be a high-rise, high-class condo with a heli-pad. But, there's not enough visiting big-shots willing to make Tulsa a second, a third, or even a fourth getaway. It's not like it's an oceanfront property. So, there you have it, a big ugly EYE sore the market has NOT made a profitable use. It's probably costing someone a FORTUNE just for the prop taxes.

S. Lee said:

I seems that a lot of the parking expansion was by downtown churches and Tulsa Community College. One can't really blame the churches: The three P's of a successful downtown church are People, Programs, and Parking. As a student of Tulsa Junior College in the 80's, I recall the constant wailing and gnashing of teeth over the lack of parking. It was normal to have to park more than a half mile away.

It seems that the situation for the churches and TCC has gotten close to leveling off now.

I would not expect the commercial lots to expand much beyond what they are now as long as there is no substantial increase in clientele downtown. Could it be that things have reached a status quo now?

I went to high school in Goshen, IN. I sort of recall ("sort of" because it was over 30 years ago) that downtown parking lots (complete with hitching posts for the Amish buggies) were built by the city to encourage people to come to downtown. Sooooo .... Maybe instead of arenas and goofy river projects, what we really need is a big parking lot initiative started for downtown!!

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on October 1, 2006 12:43 AM.

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