Study looks to revitalize downtown business district on Park Ave.
OKLAHOMA CITY — A forgotten street in downtown Oklahoma City could be getting a makeover. The City is participating in an $80,000 study to bring more retail to Park Avenue."I want more retail. I think it would help my business to have other stores up and down Park Ave," said business owner Jan Smith.When you think of downtown retail and dining, it's a big circle with Myriad Gardens, Bricktown, Automobile Alley, and Midtown. However, right in the middle of all that activity is a forgotten and underutilized business district on Park Ave."People out of town say where can I go? Where can I go shopping?" said Smith. "On Saturday's we are probably the only people open down here."Smith is the owner of 200 Park For Her, a women's boutique. Between hotel traffic, Thunder games and other downtown events, she thinks the city needs another dining and retail area that's walkable. Smith says the Park Ave district is successful. She's only been there for 16 months and is already expanding next door with a shoe store.Stephanie Morrical owns Cafe 7, across the street from Smith. She says the area has a lot of untapped potential."I would love to see some more stuff come in, and I think that would attract more people," Morrical said."Can it be retail? Is it really just dining and other things? Could it be entertainment? What is it's future?" asked Oklahoma City Assistant Planning Director Ian Colgan.Colgan says those questions will be answered through the Park Avenue Retail Enhancement Study. The City, Chamber of Commerce, Downtown OKC Inc, and the Alliance for Economic Development are pooling $80,000 to hire an outside consultant to guide them."The economics of retail can be very difficult, which is why we wanted to bring a retail expert in that's worked in places like Austin, and Milwalkee and Seattle," Colgan said.The City wants to bring in small businesses and entrepreneurs who will succeed and draw crowds. It also wants to research the best way to use the historical spaces available."An enhanced business district helps everybody," Colgan said. "It helps property values, it helps tenants, it helps economic development.""If it helps in the long run, then it will be worth it absolutely," Morrical said.The City's Economic Trust will use $40,000 of its money and the other three organizations will pay the remaining $40,000. The outside consultant will be in town on Tuesday interviewing business and property owners. The study should last four to five months.