I know a lot of times when I criticize a development I make it sound like I expect developers to barely break even. It sounds like my expectations are jumping through all these hoops and going to extreme ends to satisfy visions of "new urbanism." That isn't necessarily the case. Yeah, that would be great if every project was perfect, but you don't have to "Go green or go broke tryin!!" to make me happy. Here's an example of a (VERY) bare bones urban-smart building, a project that does FAR more to the built environment around it than any multi-million dollar projects like Lower Bricktown, the proposed SandRidge demolitions, or even The Hill.
This is the hotel/motel liquidation supercenter store thingy on NW 23rd at Walker. Yeah, it's not the best neighbor, and yeah it is kind of an eyesore for Uptown. I remember one time I actually got a desk from here years ago, after we searched the city's antique stores for a old timey desk, finally found something worn out but workable here. The place is a dump on the inside if I remember right, I don't even think they have lighting.
But I looked at it more closely while I was passing through and couldn't help but notice that the sidewalk environment is surprisingly nice. While the oversized gray/green (vomit color) metal awning that dominates the drive through Uptown is hideous and needs to go, what goes on underneath it is bearable. The sidewalk is wide enough for pedestrians to have room, they have window displays (albeit not good ones), some nice planters and patio fixtures, as well as a bench for people to wait for the bus. When you add the 23rd Uptown streetscape and the lighting, it's actually a nice environment.
If it weren't for the exhaust-stained snow drifts and the 20 degree temperature and the general malaise of activity on 23rd, there WOULD be people on that sidewalk. This building isn't adding anything to Uptown clearly, but the sidewalk environment is decent enough to the point that it doesn't detract from Uptown's walkability and it can link to more interesting elements. Granted, there really isn't a whole lot going on right now, but hopefully that will change one of these days. For now, here's an example of a low-budget building owner who is making a small, yet positive difference. I don't know the owner, or who the owner is, or if there have been issues with the owner, but at the least, I am pleasantly surprised and I think this serves as a good example on how you don't have to break the bank to be urban! It's just common sense things more of the time.
In fact, if they got rid of the hideous awning, this could very well be an attractive environment. And in case the owner reads this, I better go on a little bit more.. I definitely think that having the awning there is good for pedestrian environment, my only complaint is how hideous the awning in particular is. If it was a less overbearing and less obtrusive building element, it would be great. You could easily remove that and replace it with a simple canvas awning and you would no longer have an eyesore in the midst of a redeveloping corridor. There is potential here to have a nice building.