Friday, December 25, 2009

Brookside - Tulsa

Was up in Tulsa recently and took some pictures of their Brookside area one morning. Brookside is very similar to Western Avenue -- just much more developed. Probably 10 years ahead of Western Avenue. Anyway, here's the pics.







Brookside, a stretch of South Peoria roughly between 31st and 51st, is home to a TON of local retailers and restaurants, as well as stuff like Starbucks and the state's only Whole Foods Market. Brookside features local alternatives to those as well, such as the Shades of Brown coffeeshop, and even a local alternative to Whole Foods--like the Brookside Farmer's Market (Utica Square has Petty's Fine Foods and Cherry Street is more coffee shop terrain than Brookside). If you're ever in Tulsa, definitely be sure to eat at The Brook -- an American bar & grill inside a historic cinema that's been converted. You can read more on Brookside on the district's official website.

What would it take to get Western Avenue to develop more -- to the point that there are more storefronts that come right up to the sidewalk, more of a "main street" feel, and more residential infill to the side of the main drag.

edit:
I just wanted to bring one of the comments on this post to the forefront. From Max:

There is an upcoming streetscaping plan with sidewalks, etc. That might move it more in that direction and kickstart some development.

I think I would like to see more development guidelines in the area. The vast majority of Western (36th-I44) is simply zoned C-3, which is like interstate highway commercial...anything goes. There are zero extra planning guidelines beyond that. It results in things like the IBC bank building, etc.

This stretch of Western is ripe for it though. There are plenty of parking lots that could be redeveloped. There is enough parking behind Musashi's and Wills to cover most nights, and more of these offstreet communal parking areas which encourage walking through the district and checking out different businesses are essential. IMO, Western needs to remain a pedestrian oriented area like similar districts in most cities. Anything keeping it from those ends (namely Western facing parking lots) is a bad thing.

I think a master plan and codifying it is a start. I personally consider Western Avenue a treasure in this city that is worth the inconvenience of zoning changes, to ensure it retains its character.

5 comments:

Max said...

There is an upcoming streetscaping plan with sidewalks, etc. That might move it more in that direction and kickstart some development.

I think I would like to see more development guidelines in the area. The vast majority of Western (36th-I44) is simply zoned C-3, which is like interstate highway commercial...anything goes. There are zero extra planning guidelines beyond that. It results in things like the IBC bank building, etc.

This stretch of Western is ripe for it though. There are plenty of parking lots that could be redeveloped. There is enough parking behind Musashi's and Wills to cover most nights, and more of these offstreet communal parking areas which encourage walking through the district and checking out different businesses are essential. IMO, Western needs to remain a pedestrian oriented area like similar districts in most cities. Anything keeping it from those ends (namely Western facing parking lots) is a bad thing.

I think a master plan and codifying it is a start. I personally consider Western Avenue a treasure in this city that is worth the inconvenience of zoning changes, to ensure it retains its character.

Walker, Downtown Ranger said...

That's excellent to hear, I didn't know about the streetscaping plan. Is the city doing it or is it something that's being done with Community Block Development Grants that will require a community match? And I recognize that there is already some semblance of a streetscape along Western, it's just not very noticeable and it's a bit faded. I don't think it goes very far beyond a median strip of a few brick inlays. Something more extensive like what Brookside just finished off might go a long ways.

I honestly think that a design review board for Western would be an excellent idea. I would personally like to extend the Downtown Design Review board to cover other areas of the city, or perhaps have a second one of those to cover the development of old neighborhoods between I-240 and I-44, because we've also seen this problem of disappointing development along NW 23rd..

You're right Western, and other dense strips in the inner north side, absolutely are treasures. Most of them diamonds in the rough. It's funny how we have so much going on in our downtown and we can look down on Downtown Tulsa, but we can't even touch their inner city neighborhoods. Somehow they have fostered neighborhood identities in a way we really haven't.

Max said...

I believe that it is the Western Ave. BID funds that are being used for the future plans. It's been quite a while since I have heard anything (mental note made to check with a few people), and there's really not much available info on it out there, but I recall it initially being slated for starting early 2010.

Walker, Downtown Ranger said...

Right, I vaguely recall the BID, although I'm not a fan. Do you know how long has the BID been in place to collect revenue? That might give us a good idea of what is in the coffers and how extensive such a streetscape might be, although I imagine it will at least be as good as Broadway and Film Row.

I don't think districts such as Western should have to pay for the improvements themselves. Western is different from the Plaza, that did rightfully have to meet the city halfway on improvements, because Western is a proven asset to the entire city. Because of its current use and how everyone from the city goes there at least once a year probably, what's good for Western is good for the whole city. Western should be a priority for the whole city, but as long as the improvements get done, it's tough to complain.

Max said...

I honestly don't much about the BID and how long it's been running. I've seen very little solid info out there on the Western Ave improvements, I just know what I've picked up from business owners in the area and a few "through the grapevines" from reputable places. Maybe it's been covered by some news source, but I haven't ran across it. If I do find more, I'll pass it along.

Regardless, I agree 100% that the city should be investing into Western Ave. I'd consider it at least in the top five best things this city has going for it outside of downtown.

I think the city needs to really take the lead on the zoning thing though. C3 throughout, no restrictions other than city code. Western is on its way and is capable of growing into an amazing little self-sufficient urban village, but it could just as easily be sidetracked by its lack of planning guidelines. I don't think that'll happen, but I feel its important enough to not be left to chance.