Regular readers know Tulsa Today is the only substantive critic of the
daily newspaper active in Tulsa journalism (since 1996). We have often
taken them to task when we disagree, but have complemented them when –
on that rare occasion – we find their positions valid.
Sunday November 29, the daily provided an editorial column by Associate Editor Mike Jones on downtown growth under the headline, “Coming along.” Kudos to Jones who wrote a good piece as far as it went.
The marquee projects complete and underway in downtown are stunning. First of those, the new BOK Center, has proven beyond doubt that regional residents will support quality live music in Tulsa. The national acts are successful with high complements on attendance and the operational aspects of the venue. Even crowds at the smaller halls like Cain’s Ballroom and the several Tribal Casinos are growing.
As Governor Brad Henry has changed the dynamic of Oklahoma life from the buckle of the Bible belt to that of a gambling Mecca; the challenge now is to develop historic attractions and general family entertainment opportunities – assuming we are smart enough to follow market leader Las Vegas. The State, various Tribes and private tourism entrepreneurs must get busy in developing ways to lengthen visitor stays and solicit visitors worldwide. There is real history to Oklahoma that we have been bizarrely shy (apparently since “Grapes of Wrath” was published) about promoting. The Tribes cannot maintain casino revenue solely off the backs of local gambling fans.
The City of Tulsa’s new ballpark “ONEOK Field” is taking shape and should be fun despite questions on the financing that could and maybe should end up in court. Our Tulsa Drillers team draws the best attendance in Double-A ball and many believe the new park will be highly successful. Like Jones, I will attend the games and I look forward to the 2010 opening.
Jonespraises the Mayo Hotel’s rebirth. The new restaurant, Trula, is open to good report. The Mayo also offers residential housing and we are looking forward to additional neighbors.
Three other residential projects downtown are funded in part from Vision 2025. The other two are struggling because of the current capital crunch, but rather than help those projects avoid failure or delay Mayor Taylor funded another new residential project across from the ballpark last week. That may not have been the best course of action, but it is good to be queen some suspect the mayor mutters departing after a single term.
Tulsa Today is looking forward to the development, “One Place” which is planned for the block between Denver and Cheyenne and Second and Third Streets. However, the daily newspaper has hailed many more announced projects for downtown over the years than have come to pass. It’s not the newspaper’s fault really, any fool with a plan can issue a press release – our excitement awaits the beginning of construction.
Elliot Nelson continues to open new dining establishments – some more successful than others, but each contributing to the growing texture and diversity of a vibrant downtown. There are new sandwich shops it seems opening each week (an exaggeration primarily in amazement). Jones’ column lists many, but there is more to downtown than dining. Retail business is growing.
There are several bicycle shops downtown and a new/old shop coming we can not yet tell you about. Banks and lawyers abound in downtown – generally nice people despite their chosen careers. The Downtown Tag Agency is a successful growing operation. You can get your haircut at Hair On The Square on 5th Street and buy office supplies next door or at Ridgeways, 111 South Detroit. Avis rents great cars at a historic Route 66 location at 6thand Detroit.
There areseveral copy shops and a long established Edward Jones office at 115 West 3rdoperated by Financial Advisor Chuck Graham, AAMS. Graham reports brisk business even in thischanging economic environment. Ourfavorite retailer may be Mary Beth Babcock of Dwelling Spaces for eclecticliving, clothing and other fun stuff.
The self-serving part of Jones’ column is the criticism of critics. Yes, downtown Tulsa has critics which are primarily contrarians in addiction to their own ambitions for leadership. (Repeatedly defeated by voters, they whine.) Jones,of course, takes pride in the projects supported by his newspaper, but that paper supports everything utilizing tax dollars and/or other people’s money confident in Liberal superiority.
The question we have is when the daily newspaper will decide to do something beside provide coverage for other good works in downtown. God knows, they are making money publishing,but their ownership seems to prefer spending profits in Texas or on some fancy yacht it takes thirty employees to sail. (Ok, so the family spends millions on their private homes, but we don’t think that counts.)
Jones is correct in noting the crime level downtown is lower than any other section of the city. Parking is more convenient than in any other major city, but yes, spoiled suburbanites may have to walk a few blocks. (Get over it; it’s good for your health.)
Now approaching nine years, I have lived and worked downtown and I love it. I have seen the growth and I help individual developers who ask with detailed history, introductions and suggestions that aid in their success. I confronted drug dealers and panhandlers on the streets in the beginning, but they haven’t been seen on the streets now in years. Jokingly calling the early days “urban assault living” because of some of the challenges and grateful for owning an off-road vehicle during periods of massive streetrepair, even the bad times downtown were good.
A friend of mine from a nearby neighborhood once rode her bicycle downtown to bring her husband lunch at the Williams Towers. As she dismounted, two missionaries rushed her offering lunch. After introductions and explanation of her mission that day they went on with their efforts to minister elsewhere, but downtown dwellers would like the general public to know that everyone dressed casually or on a bicycle is not necessarily homeless or in need of charity. Sometimes we are just hanging out like you do in your neighborhood.
Consider, as Tulsa approaches 2010, that downtown Tulsa holds more potential for private development success than any other area of the city. As more people live downtown, that success grows. Those individual decisions to live the urban life add heartbeats to the streets and Tulsa’s heart is very much alive.