Windsor District’s $13M streetscape project finally complete
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Barbie Smalley has spent the last several years telling Windsor District business and property owners that the $13.2 million streetscape project would get finished.
The Windsor District stretches along NW 23rd Street from Interstate 44 to the Bethany city limits, north and south between NW 20th and NW 26th streets, a total area of 3 square miles.
Traffic ensnared motorists as the sidewalks were built and district markers were installed. That could sometimes mean two-lane roads being narrowed to one lane.
In 2015, the first marker and planting bed was installed at NW 23rd Street and Meridian Avenue. The street updates finally concluded this year. A ribbon-cutting for the marker at Interstate 44 and NW 23rd Street was held April 27.
Smalley is the president of the Windsor Area Business Group’s board of directors. She’s been involved in the streetscape project since its inception. She said it was great to see the final marker done.
“It put the stamp on the district,” she said.
Now, the district has a front door at I-44 and the new Will Rogers bicycle trail, the Journal Record reported .
The markers create a new perception, Smalley said. She works full time with the Neighborhood Alliance. With that organization, she teaches how good environmental design can help prevent crime.
“If it’s a well-maintained area, then the business development will follow suit,” she said. “People will be attracted to that. It’s really affordable still.”
The Windsor District has been working with the city since 2013. Commercial District Revitalization Program Director Kim Cooper-Hart said in that five-year span, she’s seen several positive changes, such as a new 7-Eleven store constructed at NW 23rd Street and N. MacArthur Boulevard, increased foot traffic at Feria Latina supermarket and Super Mercados Morelos, and the locally based Square Deal Capital buying the Windsor Hills Shopping Center.
“You can drive down the street and there are not a lot of vacancies,” she said. “Even the cottage-style homes along the street are starting to get businesses in them.”
Cooper-Hart said the Windsor District is different from its CDRP counterparts because it’s a suburban corridor. It’s important to get the neighborhoods and the businesses to work together. She said the growth of the Windsor District has revitalized the street’s relationship with the Musgrave-Pennington Neighborhood Association. She called the neighborhood a true gem and one that’s seen a new wave of homeowners.
Square Deal Capital Asset Manager Andy Ridley said the company has also seen a lot of momentum in the Windsor Hills Shopping Center, at NW 23rd and Meridian Avenue. The center has a new national tenant, Shoe Show, with more national tenants likely to soon complement the tenant mix. The center measures 194,000 square feet and Ridley said it will fill quickly.
“We’re looking at some existing tenants that want to expand,” he said. “We have several that are signing lease renewals for longer terms and higher rents.”
Ridley said the markers have helped spur Square Deal’s interest in getting more involved in the district. The company allows the board to host its annual Holidays Around the World event at the center. He said there are other updates planned for the center as well.
But Square Deal doesn’t have plans to sell the center anytime soon. That’s not their typical business model, he said.
“We buy and hold, though there are exceptions,” he said. “For us, it’s important to fill the space with providers who will supply that demographic with what they need. We’re not looking for a quick fill-up. We want the right mix of tenants who can help maintain the long-term success of the Windsor area.”
The board of directors is trying to hire someone who can oversee the area’s growth, at least on a part-time basis. There are already recurring events in the district that are helping to spur more neighborhood interaction.
“It’s a very active area,” Smalley said. “The streetscape’s been a huge catalyst. But the work will continue to build more and more of a sense of community.”
Information from: The Journal Record, http://www.journalrecord.com