People living and working in downtown Broken Arrow are celebrating another accolade for their city.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors just recognized the city’s mayor, Craig Thurmond, for revitalizing the Rose District.
Mayor Thurmond was one of more than 150 applicants and he says he’s surprised to win first place, but it’s well deserved after 15 years of hard work to turn a ghost town into a booming town.
“Walk by traffic was non-existing and other business? Hardly here,” said Christine Joseph with Nouvea Chocolates.
Joseph moved her chocolate shop from Tulsa to Broken Arrow’s Rose District 13 years ago.
“I’m originally from Europe and, so, this had the appeal with the brick buildings,” she said. “It was a whole different site – boarded up buildings, painted buildings, just hoping somebody would eventually walk by.”
With more than 10 new businesses opening on Main Street in the past six months, business is much sweeter now.
“Busy, to the point where we’re having a hard time keeping up with chocolates, but that’s a good problem to have,” said Joseph.
The City says that in six years the Rose District went from $18,000 in sales tax to more than $400,000.
What started with $20 million in public investment, has led to $60 million in private investment.
“The growth has just been amazing, what we’ve done, because people want to be here and they spend their money here, so it really helps our economy,” stated Thurmond.
“We have things available that you have available in big cities,” said Joseph. “Yet you still have the charm of the small city.”
A city that’s adding another livability award to its trophy case.
“It’s not just the big shops, it’s the quaint shops,” Joseph said. “Being able to walk up and down the street in the evening and have something to do that’s, yeah, that makes life livable. Absolutely.”
Earlier this year, USA Today named the Rose District the most charming main street in Oklahoma and on Monday Wallethub listed Broken Arrow as the best in the country for first-time home buyers.
Mayor Thurmond says the city’s awards will keep coming.