We will continue the process of creating a mixed-use, intensively developed, human-scaled, and experience-rich downtown. American downtowns declined as the number of reasons that brought people downtown decreased. Recently, downtowns have achieved success as places to live and visit as well as work. This evolution in Oklahoma City began in Bricktown and surrounding areas, where the canal and ballpark anchored adaptive reuse of historic buildings and the addition of new restaurants, entertainment venues, hotels, offices, and homes. This transformation continued with the addition of one of the National Basketball Association’s premier franchises, the Civic Center restoration, major office projects, and new housing. While the growth and development of downtown will always be ongoing, these accomplishments provide the foundation for building a great 21st century downtown.

Land use and development targets and policies will be instrumental in guiding this future. Major land use focuses will include a range of housing types and costs to serve a complete cross-section of the Oklahoma City market; services and retailing that support a larger resident population, including child care, educational facilities, and neighborhood commercial uses like a grocery store; integration of multiple uses into new and existing buildings; and public parks and open spaces for both programmed and informal activity. Much of this future development will occur on currently under-used sites such as the Core to Shore redevelopment area, the future Boulevard on the former I-40 right-of-way; existing surface parking lots, and vacant sites. Initial steps in meeting these needs include revisions of regulations to accelerate desirable uses and market research to demonstrate and quantify markets for specific project types.

As Downtown continues to develop, it must also evolve as a great urban place that offers a superb experience to its residents, workers, and visitors. The history of the urban renewal era in Oklahoma City tells us that investment dollars and big projects alone do not create a living and vibrant city center. A secure, populated, human-scaled environment requires family-friendly amenities, windows on the street, buildings with details scaled to people, pedestrian environments that engage the eye and mind, and an overall sense of welcoming and even festivity. These features have the power to attract the life that is characteristic of great downtowns.