Tulsa's Main Mall under construction

Tuesday, September 9th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

27 years of history is coming to an end this summer, as jackhammers begin tearing out the Main Mall in downtown Tulsa and re-opening the street to traffic.

Many are sad to see the fall of the mall, but businesses say a more prosperous Main Street will rise in its place. News on 6 business reporter Steve Berg has more.

It's a busy lunch hour on the Main Mall. And when they see it being torn out, many pedestrians are putting their foot down. "I think it's terrible, if you look around you'll see all the people that's coming down here now, I think that's what they're going to lose."

But like a lot of the landlocked business owners along here, Chris Trail with Ike's Chili says pedestrian traffic alone doesn't foot the bill. "If it's rains during lunch then a lot of people stay in for lunch. These hot days have really hurt us too." A lot of people like the Main Mall the way it is, but the problem is that after lunchtime, there's nobody here.

They think if they re-open it to traffic, they'll see nighttime activity too. “They kind of roll up the sidewalks here and it's kind of a ghost town, it's pretty sad.” Trail says he definitely plans to open for dinner if they open the road. "Sunday brunch for the church is also possible."

The Shape Xpress Health Club across the street would also look at longer hours. "We were open until 9 o'clock at night but we didn't see much activity so maybe we can open back up until 9." Many worry about losing trees and gaining traffic, but Jim Norton with Downtown Tulsa Unlimited says there will actually be one more tree than they have now and that they'll have 30-foot wide sidewalks. "So we're still giving over 90 percent of the right of way to the pedestrian. Once those trees age and mature, we'll have even more shade than we have now. Matter of fact, they're a better quality of tree, so you'll see a longer living tree and a better canopy."

And to ever get people living downtown, there has to be something here after 5 o'clock. Even when the street is open, they will close it to car traffic during lunchtime from 11 to 1.