Tulsa Zoning: June 2008 Archives

This Old House, the pioneering PBS series on home restoration has saluted Tulsa's Brady Heights neighborhood as one of the best places in the country to buy an old house:

Brady Heights existed before Oklahoma was a state. The area, originally known as the Silk Stocking neighborhood, saw hard times before making a comeback in the 1980s. Now on the National Register of Historic Places and just blocks from downtown Tulsa, Brady Heights is adjacent to the Tulsa branch of Oklahoma State University and encompasses an eclectic choice of housing, populated by a diverse mix of owners and renters. Four churches and an active community group that helps older residents take care of their homes provide the social glue....

Tate Brady, an early city booster and real estate entrepreneur as well as the neighborhood's namesake, built his mansion here in 1907. You'll also find bundles of bungalows and Foursquares built between 1900 and 1924, along with Colonial Revival, Folk Queen Anne, Folk Victorian, Craftsman, Italian Renaissance Revival, and Prairie School houses.

The neighborhood, which covers Denver and Cheyenne Avenues between Marshall St. and Fairview St., just north of the Inner Dispersal Loop, is listed by the "This Old House" site as one of the best for old-home buyers who are first-time buyers, retirees, "city slickers," those interested in craftsman houses, and those looking for an older home in the midwest. You can find a simple bungalow in the neighborhood for as little as $40,000.

Via Preserve Midtown, which notes:

Those homes that are sometimes referred to as "eyesores" do have great value with some time and effort put in to make them shine like they did when they were new.

Homes like this were built with care and with the intent of having them last for a century or more.

Houses of similar style and vintage could once be found all the way east to Detroit Ave. But the city promised the University Center of Tulsa 200 acres for its campus, and during the '90s the land south of Emerson Elementary School was bought up by the Tulsa Development Authority and the homes demolished. Footings, staircases, and other remnants are still visible.

Brady Heights has an active neighborhood association, is listed on the National Register for Historic Places, and has historic preservation overlay zoning, meaning that exterior modifications have to be reviewed for appropriateness by the Tulsa Preservation Commission, in order to preserve the historic character of the neighborhood and protect the investments made in restoring these homes.

I spoke tonight at the Florence Park Neighborhood Association's meeting about neighborhood visioning and planning. The meeting was held at the Tulsa Little Theater, and it was great to get another look at the wonderful job that Bryce and Sunshine Hill have done in restoring that cultural landmark.

I also learned tonight that alongside the many active neighborhood associations in the area, there's an active business association -- the College Hill Association of Merchants and Professionals (CHAMP), representing a variety of businesses located between and on both sides of Lewis and Harvard Avenues, 11th and 21st Streets.

CHAMP has a well-organized website at collegehillmerchants.com. The members' page has business card type ads for each member, with links to webpages. There's a page with printable coupons, too.

I hope the idea catches on and helps knit together the whole area, including the surrounding neighborhoods, into a cohesive district that can work together to conserve and improve itself, with residents supporting the businesses and the businesses providing useful services and good value for the residents.

In my talk, I noted that Brookside residents regard Peoria as its heart -- one neighborhood joined together by the commercial strip down the middle. In CHAMP's area, residents tend to look at commercial streets like 15th and Harvard as boundaries that divide one neighborhood from another. As Florence Park Neighborhood Association works on its neighborhood vision, it should see its neighborhood as inclusive churches, shops, and offices as well as houses. The traditional neighborhood commercial buildings along 15th should become the heart of the community, a gathering place. A partnership between CHAMP and the surrounding neighborhood associations is the key to making that happen.

(Thanks to the CHAMP website, I learned about a deli called Ella's that has free wifi, sandwiches named for jazz musicians, and live music on Friday and Saturday nights. I shall have to give them a try.)

(Note to self: Start adding links to neighborhood and merchant associations to my sidebar, and add the Tulsa Little Theater blog to my blogroll.)

It happened in Bartlesville, but the lesson applies everywhere: You can't expect people to adapt and reuse your historic buildings or build high quality new construction which fits in a historic area if you allow someone to throw up a metal building in the midst of it:

In November 2007, Shelby Navarro, Tulsa architect who is currently involved with an investment group re-developing 70 buildings in the Pearl District of Tulsa, and J. Elliot Nelson, owner of McNally's [McNellie's] Pub in Tulsa and of other pubs and restaurants in both Tulsa and Oklahoma City, came to Bartlesville at Clyde Sare's invitation. They toured the BRTA [Bartlesville Redevelopment Trust Authority] buildings at Second Street and Keeler Avenue with the idea of developing them and other buildings downtown into a dining/entertainment/retail complex. Mr. Nelson was already committed to installing a pub at the Pioneer Building on Dewey Avenue.

After the BRTA overturned the Design Review Committee's decision regarding construction of a metal building in the Downtown District, Mr. Rankin and his associates, as well as Shelby Navarro and J. Elliot Nelson, decided to put their plans on hold. They were concerned that such lax enforcement of design guidelines would be harmful to future investments. In Rankin's words, "There needs to be a stable environment to protect the investors who risk their capital in a historical district."

Emphasis added. At least Bartlesville has a Design Review Committee, but it doesn't do much good if they override the rules and allow incompatible design and cheap, throwaway buildings.

It's a great privilege for Tulsa to host this year's National Preservation Conference, to be held in October, and it's a great opportunity for Tulsans concerned about historic preservation, adaptive reuse, sensitive infill, neighborhood conservation, art deco architecture, and urban design to raise local awareness on these issues. Here's an opportunity to get involved:

The final Local Advisory Committee meeting for the 2008 National Preservation Conference will be held on Thursday, June 19, 4:30 - 6:00pm, in the Manchester Room at the Doubletree Hotel Downtown, 616 W. 7th Street.

Anyone who is interested or in any way involved in the conference should make plans to attend! Representatives from the National Trust for Historic Preservation will be discussing conference program highlights, marketing, and volunteer opportunities.

If you plan to attend, please call (202) 588-6100 or email conference@nthp.org by Friday, June 13.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Tulsa Zoning category from June 2008.

Tulsa Zoning: May 2008 is the previous archive.

Tulsa Zoning: July 2008 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.



Subscribe to feed Subscribe to this blog's feed:
[What is this?]