Friday, October 23, 2009

SoSA is Free

One area of downtown that has done a remarkable job bucking the sorry-bad-economy-no-development trend is SoSA. The funny thing about SoSA is that nobody even knew what the hell it was 2 years ago. Last year architects Brian Fitzsimmons and Dennis Wells had a show down with preservationalist Randy Floyd over a proposed contemporary house modeled after the California case study houses of the 30s -- Floyd argued it was out of place in the "Cottage District" and did her best to get the project turned down. Wells' response wasn't "OH but please let out project through, we promise we'll fit in."

Instead the architects made a stand against what they felt was a bullshit image in the first place of the "Cottage District." Wells and Fitzsimmons utlimately won their case because the truth is that the area formerly known as the "Cottage District" has little meaningful historic fabric left in tack. It's also perfectly positioned, wedged between the county jail and St. Anthony's, to serve as an area for architects to just go wild. Today not only did Wells get his project passed, but he's got several more planned, along with several existing Fitzsimmons projects, and now there appears to be momentum behind modernist design in the area now known as "South of St. Anthony" aka SoSA. Mission accomplished. "SoSA" has been set free of restrictions limiting the creativity of locals and architects.

The first project in the area was Randy Floyd's historic preservation of a few townhomes on 7th Street. Floyd did an amazing job with the preservation project long before the neighborhood turned the corner. Then was another preservation project on Francis, pictured left.

Then came Brian Fitzsimmons personal abode, the OKasian house, pictured above. Arguably one of the coolest houses in OKC.

Here on the FreeSoSA site is a really cool medley of SoSA pics, including the Classen Glen condos, which were well ahead of their time when they were built in the 1970s, as well as several other really cool houses. SoSA, while under a lot of development right now, is nothing like Deep Deuce -- almost all of these projects are single house infill.

One bigger project is the ModeHomes stuff going on in MidTown. I'm not exactly positive where in MidTown this stuff is going in, but a new group from Seattle is trying to develop contemporary infill in OKC that's pretty similar to the rest of the SoSA stuff. Their first project however is multi-unit, a 9-unit development that will (supposedly) be ready for move-in next summer. The facades combine several building materials such as brick veneer, aluminum panels, and cedar siding for an interesting look. They say they have two projects, but this is the only one I've seen. All Mode has so far is a twitter page so far, but my understanding is that it's in the very early planning stages still.

Currently there are 3 single family projects under construction--one on 7th, and two on 8th. According to the site there are also two projects in the planning stages -- both on 7th Street. Of course it's no wonder that the area is growing. Consider that the skyline view from your bedroom, pictured below, is absolutely stunning and that the city has relaxed design standards, which combine to create a very unique opportunity for a special neighborhood.

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