Tulsa's Pearl District Moves Closer To Revitalization

Thursday, January 15th 2009, 10:43 pm
By: News On 6

By Jennifer Loren, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Planners and developers are getting closer to making big changes in Tulsa's Pearl District.

They want to make it a pedestrian-friendly mixed-use neighborhood with water features.  The district is just east of downtown, from Highway 75 to Utica, between 11th Street and I-244.

Developer Jamie Jamieson is excited about the future of the Pearl District.  For eight years, he and several other Tulsans have been working on a plan to turn the area near 6th and Peoria into a revitalized, urban neighborhood.

People who live and work in the Pearl District have been a big part of the planning process.  Many of them envision a cutting edge design, like no other neighborhood in America.

"We're trying to make this a pedestrian focused, mass transit focused area where people can live and work and play without recourse to a car," said Christine Booth of the Pearl District Neighborhood Board.

The reason the Pearl District has not been redeveloped until now is because of water. They're in a flood basin and until that's taken care of; no one will spend money there. And, for many, that's unacceptable.

"The Pearl District is right at the edge of downtown. So if we're revitalizing downtown do we want to go from downtown to blight?" said Christine Booth of the Pearl District Neighborhood Board.

Part of the area's flood mitigation is already in place with the pond in Centennial Park.  Developers plan to use the rest of the flood water mitigation as an attraction as well.  They'll build more urban ponds and a canal down the middle of 6th Street.  It will be surrounded by two lanes of a pedestrian friendly street and mixed-use buildings.

"It's just going to add value to the properties either side of it and create interest in it as a neighborhood. And that's what we're about. We're about social revitalization. We're about economic revitalization," said developer Jamie Jamieson.

And, speaking of economics, the plan is in place but most of the funding is not.  That's the next step in taking the diamond in the rough to the pearl it's expected to become.

"And this won't happen overnight. It will happen gradually. People will realize that this is a pretty interesting idea," said developer Jamie Jamieson.

Developers are working with INCOG and the city's planning department on the design and the Tulsa City Council has already signed off on the Pearl's master plan.