Working on improving downtown Tulsa's reputation

Thursday, September 30th 2004, 3:29 pm

By: News On 6

Some say downtown Tulsa is a dangerous place to be, but folks who run businesses downtown say that's not the case. And all the negative news is hurting their businesses.

News on 6 reporter Ashli Sims says there are dozens of nightclubs, restaurants, and budding businesses. Many have never had any problems with violence. But downtown's getting a bad reputation, that some say is scaring off business.

Rebecca Bryant wants to bring exotic tastes from France, Spain and Australia right here to Tulsa. "I want it to feel like you walk in and you could be in New York or Paris or London I want it to have a great feel like that." Bryant's new venture is part cheese shop, part restaurant, and part wine bar.

After considering Brookside and Cherry Street, she settled on downtown for her new project. The possible location got rave reviews from some, skepticism from others. "One guy recently said wow you're going to have to be careful with all of the violence downtown but what I find is the people with this perception have never been downtown."

A series of bar brawls and police calls are fueling a negative perception of downtown, that's having a ripple effect on businesses.

Mexicali's general manager Al Cronheim says business is starting to drag and his customers have recently started questioning their safety. “Never never along this whole street I don't think I ever seen the police called out for any kind of violence or disturbance."

Early morning fights do happen downtown, but Tulsa Police say the area has actually quieted down. They've beefed up patrols, especially around 2 AM when the bars and clubs close. Cronheim: "They're isolated incidents its not like there is a group of gangsters down here everything that happened was isolated."

Rebecca Bryant is sticking with her plan to open shop downtown. She says this area is no different than any other area in Tulsa. "I haven’t felt in danger at all when I come downtown. Now I'm not going to walk across a deserted parking lot at midnight alone but I'm not going to do that at the mall either."

Business owners tell the News on 6, they would like to see more police patrols, even a satellite division based downtown, but Tulsa Police say they simply don't have the manpower for that.

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