Growing Pains

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A rendering shows the planned Core to Shore park that will link I-40 to downtown Oklahoma City. Rendering courtesy City of Oklahoma City.
A rendering shows the planned Core to Shore park that will link I-40 to downtown Oklahoma City. Rendering courtesy City of Oklahoma City.

Mapping It Out

In Oklahoma City, the downtown area has been reshaped by the MAPS initiatives and Project 180, along with the boom of activity in the Midtown, Bricktown, Deep Deuce and Automobile Alley districts.

“Downtown has seen some major infrastructure changes in the last few years, from the relocation of Interstate 40 to Project 180,” Colgan says. “These have occurred alongside significant growth, inclusive of the Devon Energy Tower, the addition of over 800 housing units, several hundred hotel rooms and much more office and retail space. Considering such rapid growth, the city has done a good job coordinating both small and large infrastructure projects and leveraging development to help pay for infrastructure improvements.”

With projects such as a new convention center, downtown pedestrian boulevard, a streetcar system and the Core to Shore park on the horizon, residents must accustom themselves to a city center in transition. And as Colgan points out, such expansion will almost definitely continue to grow and impact infrastructure in the city.

“The MAPS 3 park and convention center will be significant catalysts that not only demand major infrastructure improvements, but also improvements like streetscape and utility upgrades to correspond with adjacent private development,” Colgan says. “Both will be adjacent to the future boulevard and set the tone for how many [people will] enter and first experience downtown.

“The streetcar, which could leverage millions of dollars in private investment, is no different,” he says. “Discussions about the next streetcar line have already been held, years ahead of the first line. Success will likely result in significant demand to expand the streetcar in all directions, greatly impacting all transportation related infrastructure, as well as the larger transportation network, within downtown and in adjacent neighborhoods.”

“The streetcar probably has the most potential to change downtown,” says A.J. Kirkpatrick, director of operations and planning for Downtown Oklahoma City Inc.

“Streets and adjoining sidewalks will have to be changed to accommodate a totally new user group. And if the streetcar is a success, evidence from other cities indicates that it could have a significant impact on the built environment as well. Developers might be able to lower the amount of parking they are offering, which will in turn allow them to build larger buildings. In turn, larger buildings need bigger supporting infrastructure. Again, if successful, the streetcar could significantly alter downtown.”