Monday night, Muskogee city councilors voted to approve a program to attract developers to build apartments in historic downtown buildings.
Muskogee's downtown is going through a transformation.
"This is big. In order to bring back and revitalize the downtown, and bring people that typically wouldn't live here, we've got to do something to bring it back," said City of Muskogee building official, Dan Hurd.
Several historic buildings have business on the ground level, but the upper floors are empty. The city wants to incentivize property owners and outside developers to turn that space into apartments.
Through the $50,000 grant, developers could get $4,500 to $7,500 per apartment unit.
The only catch, they have to hire local contractors and buy local materials when possible.
Hurd said, "I believe we're going to get a lot of investors, from outside, that have that same vision that wants to come in here and take it back to its historic roots and revitalize it."
Other incentive programs created low income and senior living apartments in the Central Business District.
"One thing that we've seen over time is our youth have left this town. We have not grown in over 50 years. We've been population stagnant for a long time and one of the things that we have noticed is that the younger generation, they want to be able to walk to work, they want to walk to the grocery store, they want to walk to the local market, they want to walk to the coffee shop, the pub downtown, so we think this fits with today's generation," Hurd said.
The new development grant targets average renters.
"When we start talking about market rate, we want to see more tile flooring, we want to see solid surface countertops, we want to see more of the amenities you'll see in a middle-class home in an apartment," said Hurd.
And if this first round of funding is successful, more grants could come from the Muskogee Foundation to incentivize more downtown living development in Muskogee.