Revitalization Of Kendall Whittier Main Street Paying Off
TULSA, Oklahoma - Kendall Whittier Main Street, just outside of downtown Tulsa, has come a long way in the last few years.
Decades ago, it was a place many people used to stay away from.
“Twenty-five or thirty years ago, the neighborhood wasn’t exactly a place that you wanted to hang out,” said Ed Sharrer with Kendall Whittier Main Street.
But now, in 2018, it’s close to 100 percent full of new businesses. Most of that change happened in the last five years, with a new group of young entrepreneurs seeing the potential in the area.
"We are going to go from 35 percent occupied five years ago to 95 percent occupied," Sharrer said.
One of the newest business set to open its doors is Bobby Pin Salon, a vision of first-time entrepreneur Cassandra Peters. The space is a former pool hall, but she knew it was meant to be the moment she set eyes on it.
"This is the perfect space. It feels right and this is exactly where I want to be, and being in the space kind of made it all happen,” she said.
People like Peters are opening similar ventures all around Kendall Whittier; 35 new businesses in only five years, following in the footsteps of the pioneers.
"There are a lot of people - the Ziegler family, folks at Circle Cinema and even the Swinney family when they were still around, that spent a long time trying to turn this neighborhood around and stabilize it,” Sharrer said.
And it was worth stabilizing.
Kendall Whittier Main Street is one of only seven cultural districts certified through the Oklahoma Arts Council.
"It has taken about 25 years for us to be an overnight success, and we are really starting to see those gains now,” Sharrer said.
And Peters is excited to be part of all of it.
"You do have to come check it out. It's not the same place it once was. It is vibrant and full of young people willing to put their stuff out there and let it happen,” she said.
The Tulsa Foundation for Architecture will give tours there this weekend. If you're interested in learning more about Kendall Whittier, you can find more information here.