Tulsa Downtown: November 2009 Archives

The city's economic development planners would like your thoughts on housing in and near downtown, and they've set up an online survey to collect your input, now through November 23. They want to find out who would be willing to live within the IDL and the neighborhoods immediately to the north, east, south, and west if their housing requirements could be met at a reasonable price.

I've taken the survey, so here's a preview of what to expect:

In the survey you'll be asked about your willingness to live in each of five areas -- downtown proper, Crosbie Heights/Owen Park (they misspelled Crosbie), Brady Heights/OSU, Central Park/Tracy Park, and Riverview/Uptown. You'll be given a chance to express your reasons for your likelihood or unlikelihood to move into each. I was frustrated that the choices didn't include "somewhat likely, if I were planning to move, which won't be anytime in the near future, because moving is a pain."

You'll shown photos of types of new houses -- townhomes, luxury condos like those north of Cherry Street, typical suburban snout houses, luxury homes like those popping up around Brookside, and new homes designed in a traditional fashion -- and what you'd be willing to pay for them. (The example of the new home designed in a traditional fashion appeared to be a craftsman by Novus Homes in the Brady Heights historic district.)

When the survey asked what I'd be willing to pay for each, my number was consistently lower than what the survey said was the typical minimum in this area for new construction. I guess I don't see the point of packing up and moving to pay more for less house than I already have, no matter how luxurious the features. It just seems like bad stewardship to me. I don't get people who move house every couple of years. Given that there's no such thing as a perfect house, any more than there's a perfect spouse, car, job, or church, there's no point in pursuing an ongoing quest to find it. You learn to take the bad with the good and work around the limitations.

In the news release, below, you'll see that the aim is to collect information that will help "attract urban housing developers to the community." That focus on new construction seems at odds with the aim of creating inner city housing within the price range of most Tulsa families. New construction, particularly on expensive land, is rarely affordable for median-income families.

Do we want to limit center-city living to wealthy empty-nesters and trust-fund babies? Or do we want creative young twenty-somethings and young families to repopulate our inner neighborhoods? If so, they need cheap but decent places to live. As a start, the city can help by yanking on the Fire Marshal's leash. The City Council's decision to uphold the Philtower's appeal last Thursday night was a positive step, but the council needs to go a step further and get rid of the new sprinkler requirements set to go into effect on January 1, 2010. The city needs to look carefully at how renovation of existing single-family and multi-family housing is inhibited by our zoning code, building code, and fire code -- particularly the burdensome extra requirements Tulsa has added to the standard codes.

A customized neighborhood zoning ordinance could be used to make it easier to add on to a home in an older neighborhood -- smaller "livability space" requirements, for example -- and that in turn might make those older homes more attractive to families. At the same time, such an ordinance could require any new construction to be similar in height, setback, and arrangement (no snout houses!) to existing homes in these historic neighborhoods.

Finally, schools are an issue for families with kids. A meaningful school choice program that allows low- to moderate-income families to take some of the state funding for their children's education to a private school would do much to eliminate a deterrent to families living in the urban core.

MORE: Mike Easterling has a story on the downtown housing survey in the November 18, 2009, Urban Tulsa Weekly.

Here's the news release, after the jump:

Last Sunday, as an early birthday lunch, my parents took us out to eat downtown at a new place that's been around for a while.

Escargot's is a catering establishment at 8th and Main, in the old Harrington's / KOME building. The dining room has long been used for special events, but only recently has the owner opened up for one and all for an all-you-can-eat Sunday brunch.

When Mom asked me where I'd like to eat, I had just read Katherine Kelly's review of Escargot's brunch in the latest Urban Tulsa Weekly, and I thought it would be worth a try. I was impressed at the owner seeing a way he could extend his successful business to meet the opportunity presented by several of Tulsa's largest churches within a few blocks of his front door and few available dining options nearby.

The food and service were as good as advertised. The younger kids were very happy with their food choices. (One buffet is devoted to kid favorites like chicken drumsticks, macaroni and cheese, pancakes, and corn dogs.) The salad was especially good -- not the usual bland iceberg. The food was hearty and fresh. My older son enthused over the fried okra. I especially liked the biscuits and gravy.

Prices were on par with most Sunday sit-down dining options. $12.50 for adults includes your drink, tax, and tip. It's $6 for ages 5-10. That's less than we'd spend at Delta Cafe for entrees alone (plus tax and tip), but at Escargot's the price covers drinks and desserts, the kids get to eat what they like, and there's no waiting to eat.

Escargot's is open for Sunday brunch from 10:30 to 2:30. Off-street parking is available north of the building, and there's plenty of street parking nearby (free on Sundays).

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Tulsa Downtown category from November 2009.

Tulsa Downtown: September 2009 is the previous archive.

Tulsa Downtown: April 2010 is the next archive.

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