Bartlesville downtown making a comeback. - - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - |

Bartlesville downtown making a comeback.

Earlier this week, Bartlesville voters overwhelmingly approved a tax extension with much of the money being used for downtown improvements.

Some folks believe it is just what the city needs to breathe new life into downtown. Four thousand people work each day in Bartlesville's downtown.

It's hoped those thousands will want to stay downtown after hours.

The Keeler Building in downtown Bartlesville has a rich history. It was built in 1905. A couple of years later, it was the site of the first shootout after statehood. It was once a bar, a hotel three times.

But for 40 years, there hasn't been much use for the upstairs of the building until now.

Patricia Romines, the building owner says, "We essentially took it down to the studs."

After a major renovation, the second floor of the Keeler Building is now home to Knights Bridge Investors. It is 20 offices; a 7500 square foot gem in downtown.

It's the type of investment city leaders hope to see more of in downtown and voters seem to agree, passing a tax extension for downtown improvements.

Romines says, "I think it is the signal everybody's been waiting for. As a whole community supports something happening to change downtown."

A citizens committee on downtown development will make recommendations within the next two months including improved lighting, better parking and even the possibility of housing near downtown.

It's hoped the city's commitment will help to encourage more private investment like at the Keeler building.

Romines says, “when we look at other cities that have a nice downtown, it is because a group of citizens have made a commitment to turn it around. It doesn't just happen."

The downtown improvements done by the city will be spread out over the next five years but most changes will be because of private investment. The city hopes momentum builds and many private investors will begin their own renovations.
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