MUSKOGEE, Oklahoma - Downtown Muskogee is one of Oklahoma's oldest skylines.

For years, historic buildings filled with department stores and shops. But now, some of those buildings are vacant.

Muskogee's City Council wants to stop the downtown exodus and get people living there again.

As part of the "Action in Muskogee" plan, the community called for a study to look at ways to revamp its downtown. 

The University of Oklahoma's Institute for Quality Communities got the call to help out.

Shawn Michael Schaefer from the university's Urban Design Studio is part of the study team.

“The community has high hopes for us, so it puts a lot of pressure,” said Schaefer. “That's both a challenge and a good incentive. So, the students working on the project really become engaged in it. They really take ownership in the project.”

The team of faculty and students will get input from the community and hold workshops.

Schaefer says the design team will find ways to tie in downtown and even Arrowhead Mall to the north.

“I think initially we'll take a holistic approach,” Schaefer stated. “We'll want to look at the whole city and see how downtown fits into the fabric. We may even look regionally."

Some concepts on the wish list include housing, restaurants and a grocery store to get the downtown economic engine turning again.

“You don't want streetscape,” Wayne Johnson of the Muskogee City Council explained. “What you want is a livable, walkable community, and that's what we want to develop in Downtown Muskogee."

The findings and renderings for the new downtown Muskogee should be ready by next spring.