Study Shows Downtown Tulsa Ripe For More Housing
By Dan Bewley and Terry Hood, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- Tulsa is rolling out the welcome mat in downtown. The city is trying to encourage more people to live in downtown and more developers to create lofts and other living areas.
City leaders say they need 400 new living spaces in the downtown area just by the end of this year. A new study says that's only the beginning if the revitalization of downtown is to move forward.
Developer Michael Sager loves downtown Tulsa. His latest project is converting one of its oldest buildings into a place to call home.
"This was the Jacobs Hotel built in 1916, and it's now First Street Lofts which is 18 residential units above the first floor with a first floor retail space," said Michael Sager, a Tulsa developer.
Sager says living downtown has its advantages. He boasts that First Street Lofts, for example, has amazing views of the new ONEOK Field and the city skyline.
But the biggest selling point of downtown living, Sager says, is that you don't need a car.
"It is all about walk ability. Right now we've got about $10 million worth of restaurant sales within 300 feet of where we are," Sager said.
"Tulsa has significant, unmet demand for housing within the urban core," said Economic Development Commission Past Chair Bruce Bolzle
Wednesday the city released a new study highlighting the need for apartments, townhomes, even single family homes in the downtown area. It found young professionals and empty nesters are interested in moving downtown, but the city needs 400 new living spaces by the end of the year and an average of another 225 units for the next five years to meet demand.
Economic leaders say the study proves the city needs to take the appropriate steps get more people to live downtown.
"Financial incentives are not necessarily the key, great public policy is the key - walkable, livable neighborhoods, narrower streets, wider sidewalks," Bolzle said.
Downtown is already seeing more growth. The Mayo Hotel re-opened its doors last fall while more and more developers are remodeling old, rundown buildings.
Sager hopes others follow his lead and decide to move back to Tulsa's roots.
City leaders hope the study encourages banks and lenders to loan money to those looking to develop downtown.