Agreeing With The World, In Part

Regular readers know Tulsa Today is the only substantive critic of the
daily newspaperactive in Tulsa journalism (since 1996). We have often
taken them to task when we disagree, but have complementedthem when –
on that rare occasion – we find their positions valid.

SundayNovember 29, the daily provided an editorial column by Associate Editor MikeJones on downtown growth under the headline, “Coming along.”  Kudos to Jones who wrote a good piece as faras it went.

The marqueeprojects complete and underway in downtown are stunning.  First of those, the new BOK Center, has proven beyond doubt thatregional residents will support quality live music in Tulsa. The national acts are successful with high complements on attendance andthe operational aspects of the venue.  Evencrowds at the smaller halls like Cain’s Ballroom and the several Tribal Casinosare growing.

As GovernorBrad Henry has changed the dynamic of Oklahoma life from the buckle of the Biblebelt to that of a gambling Mecca; the challenge now is to develophistoric attractions and general family entertainment opportunities – assumingwe are smart enough to follow market leader Las Vegas. The State, various Tribes and private tourism entrepreneurs must getbusy in developing ways to lengthen visitor stays and solicit visitors worldwide.  There is real history to Oklahoma that we have been bizarrely shy (apparentlysince “Grapes of Wrath” was published) about promoting.  The Tribes cannot maintain casino revenuesolely off the backs of local gambling fans.

The City ofTulsa’s new ballpark “ONEOK Field” istaking shape and should be fun despite questions on the financing that could andmaybe should end up in court.  Our TulsaDrillers team draws the best attendance in Double-A ball and many believe thenew park will be highly successful.  LikeJones, I will attend the games and I look forward to the 2010 opening.

Jonespraises the Mayo Hotel’s rebirth.  Thenew restaurant, Trula, is open to good report. The Mayo also offers residential housing and we are looking forward toadditional neighbors.

Three otherresidential projects downtown are funded in part from Vision 2025.  The other two are struggling because of the currentcapital crunch, but rather than help those projects avoid failure or delayMayor Taylor funded another new residential project across from the ballparkthis week.  That may not have been thebest course of action, but it is good to be queen some suspect the mayor muttersdeparting after a single term.

Tulsa Todayis looking forward to the development, “One Place” which is planned for the blockbetween Denver and Cheyenne and Second and Third Streets.  However, the daily newspaper has hailed manymore announced projects for downtown over the years than have come topass.  It’s not the newspaper’s faultreally, any fool with a plan can issue a press release – our excitement awaitsthe beginning of construction.

ElliotNelson continues to open new dining establishments – some more successful thanothers, but each contributing to the growing texture and diversity of a vibrantdowntown.  There are new sandwich shops itseems opening each week (an exaggeration primarily in amazement).  Jones’ column lists many, but there is moreto downtown than dining.  Retail businessis growing.

There areseveral bicycle shops downtown and a new/old shop coming we can not yet tellyou about.  Banks and lawyers abound indowntown – generally nice people despite their chosen careers.  The Downtown Tag Agency is a successfulgrowing operation.  You can get your haircut at Hair On The Square on 5th Street and buy office supplies nextdoor 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.

Theself-serving part of Jones’ column is the criticism of critics.  Yes, downtown Tulsa has critics which are primarilycontrarians in addiction to their own ambitions for leadership. (Repeatedlydefeated by voters, they whine.)  Jones,of course, takes pride in the projects supported by his newspaper, but thatpaper supports everything utilizing tax dollars and/or other people’s moneyconfident in Liberal superiority. 

Thequestion we have is when the daily newspaper will decide to do something besideprovide 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 takesthirty employees to sail.  (Ok, so thefamily spends millions on their private homes, but we don’t think that counts.)

Jones is correctin noting the crime level downtown is lower than any other section of thecity.  Parking is more convenient than inany other major city, but yes, spoiled suburbanites may have to walk a fewblocks.  (Get over it; it’s good for yourhealth.)

Nowapproaching nine years, I have lived and worked downtown and I love it.  I have seen the growth and I help individualdevelopers who ask with detailed history, introductions and suggestions thataid in their success.  I confronted drugdealers and panhandlers on the streets in the beginning, but they haven’t beenseen on the streets now in years.  Jokinglycalling the early days “urban assault living” because of some of the challengesand grateful for owning an off-road vehicle during periods of massive streetrepair, even the bad times downtown were good.

A friend ofmine from a nearby neighborhood once rode her bicycle downtown to bring herhusband lunch at the Williams Towers. As she dismounted, two missionaries rushed her offering lunch.  After introductions and explanation of hermission that day they went on with their efforts to minister elsewhere, butdowntown dwellers would like the general public to know that everyone dressedcasually or on a bicycle is not necessarily homeless or in need ofcharity.  Sometimes we are just hangingout like you do in your neighborhood.

Consider, asTulsa approaches 2010, that downtown Tulsa holds more potential for privatedevelopment success than any other area of the city.  As more people live downtown, that successgrows.  Those individual decisions tolive the urban life add heartbeats to the streets and Tulsa’s heart is very much alive.