Growing Stronger: Edmond Expanding
In The Last Decade Or So, Edmond Has Largely Shed Its Moniker As The “Bedroom Community” North Of Oklahoma City Or Simply As The Home Of The University of Central Oklahoma. It Has Experienced Continued Growth And Development – Both Retail And Residential – And City Leaders Have Various Plans In The Works To Make It More Of A Destination For Visitors And Residents Alike. Retailers, Both Local And National, Continue To Set Up Shop In New And Established Corridors Of The City. In Addition To Downtown, Corridors Such As Kelly Avenue And Covell Road Are Experiencing Continued Retail And Residential Growth. Housing Permits Have Skyrocketed In Number And Commercial Developers Are Consistently Eyeing The Area.
“The entire OKC metro is growing, and Edmond is no exception,” said Toni Weinmeister, associate director of the Edmond Economic Development Authority. “Our population continues to increase, our educational attainment percentage of 49.4 percent continues to be strong and our average household income continues to rise.”
New businesses and developments are catering to a city that continues to grow, and boasts some of the highest income levels and educational attainment in the country. Businesses also must cater to a diverse citizenry with a median age of 35. Edmond has an average household income of around $100,000, well above the averages of Oklahoma and the rest of the country. The C2ER (Council for Community and Economic Research) Cost of Living Index showed Edmond with a better ranking than cities of comparable size like Plano, TX, Fresno, CA, and Jacksonville, NC.
People also continue to move to Edmond in a steady stream. From a population of 34,454 in 1980, according to census numbers, the city has grown to almost 85,000 residents in 2014 and is estimated to jump to about 89,000 in 2019.
Two significant projects are set for the intersection of Interstate 35 and Covell. The Summit Sports Complex is a privately owned 155,000-square-foot multi-sport center slated to open in 2015. The $15 million indoor facility will cater to youth sports for Edmond and the Oklahoma City metro area, featuring eight regulation basketball courts, 16 regulation volleyball courts and two indoor soccer fields. Meanwhile, work should now be underway (groundbreaking was set for mid-January) on the Hilton Garden Inn and Conference Center, a public-private partnership that will boast 160 rooms.
“The City of Edmond is investing in land, construction of the conference center, water, sewer, electric and road improvements,” Weinmeister said. “It will enable several hundred acres of commercial development to take place around this project, as well as on the southwest and northeast corners of this intersection.”
The EEDA’s most recent numbers show that for 2013 the city had 710 available rooms with an average occupancy of 67.9 percent; 2013 gross receipts for hotel rooms totaled $12.5 million.
Lodging tax collections in the city have been increasing over the last five years. The Edmond Convention & Visitors Bureau reported lodging tax collections in 2010 were $355,213. After a gradual decrease to $354,271 in 2011, that number jumped to $411,094 in 2012, and hit $442,249 in 2013.
In the central business district, two more future developments were recently approved: Plaza USA, a two-story, multi-tenant retail/commercial development on the southeast corner of Campbell and Broadway, and the Patriarch Craft Beer House and Lawn, in a three-story house built in 1903, at 9 E. Edwards. The beer house is set to open this spring.
Along Interstate 35, what used to be a lonely stretch of highway has evolved into a bustling center of activity. Fox Lake Retail Center, at 15th and I-35, welcomed Walmart and a Sam’s Club that opened last year. Development is continuing in that area with two additional 11,000-square-foot buildings, Weinmeister said.
Health care companies also are investing in projects along Interstate 35. Mercy Edmond I-35 opened in June – its 206,000-square-foot facility at 2017 W. I-35 Frontage Road includes Mercy Fitness Center, Mercy Sports Performance, Mercy Clinic and outpatient surgery and more.
The Mercy facility was damaged in a 2013 tornado, but in July 2014 made a full comeback.
Integris Health Edmond, 4801 Integris Parkway, entered the Edmond market offering the largest full-service emergency department in the city and services ranging from diagnostic imaging to labor and delivery for Edmond’s newest residents. The hospital plans to continue growing; construction began in July on a second 45,000-square-foot medical office building, and it’s set for completion in 2015.
“We promised our Edmond neighbors we would continue to grow with our community,” said Avilla Williams, Integris Health Edmond president, at the announcement of the new building. “That promise means offering the newest services and a multitude of physicians and specialists on the same campus as our 24/7 ER.”
Francis Tuttle staked its claim in Edmond with the opening of its Business Innovation Center at Covell and I-35. The center is expected to spur further development in the Cross Timbers Northeast Office Park.
“Francis Tuttle is the first business to locate at this office park,” Weinmeister said. “We should see more offices being constructed soon on an additional 28-acre parcel directly north of Francis Tuttle.”
The center functions to facilitate customized training services, career development and personal enrichment classes, the Center for Municipal Excellence and the LaunchPad FT Business Incubator.
Francis Tuttle has partnered with Edmond Public Schools to work with high school students as well as working adults to create a highly skilled workforce. For fiscal year 2013, the Francis Tuttle Business and Industry Services helped more than 450 businesses with training initiatives.
Local Versus National
In addition to local retailers, several national and regional brands are entering the local market in both downtown and the Covell/Kelly corridor, among others.
“Covell and Kelly, for example, is currently half and half with local retailers like Covell Park, Uptown Grocery, Fit Circle and national retailers like Lowe’s, Walgreens [and] Pepperoni Grill,” Weinmeister said.
“Firehouse Subs recently opened at 15th and Broadway, which is a national retailer, but Aspen Coffee opened at the same intersection, which is a local coffee shop originally from Stillwater.”
Downtown, however, is home to mostly local retailers. Shoppers can browse boutiques like Broadway Antique Mall, Cinnamon Bears, Tack Designs and Silver Leaf Gems. Hungry? Try local favorites like Othello’s, Evoke, venerable cafe Around the Corner, Italian Jim’s, Café 501 and more.
The sprawling Spring Creek Plaza shopping center at 15th and Bryant has a healthy mix of local and national tenants. Nameplate retailers like Ann Taylor Loft, Talbots and White House/Black Market fit comfortably alongside local shops such as Lucca, Tiger Lily and Isabella.
“Covell and Kelly has become a hot spot for retail,” Weinmeister said.
Lowe’s came on the scene, followed by Walgreens and Prime Bank. On the heels of those retailers, the area welcomed Qdoba and Fit Circle, and will soon be home to the restaurants Covell Park – from the owners of Guernsey Park in Oklahoma City – and Black Walnut Café, a restaurant chain based in Texas.
Public Safety’s Future Home
Edmond is in the midst of building a new public safety center that will house the Edmond Police Department, the Public Safety Communications Department and Emergency Management functions. The 70,000-square-foot project is slated for the southeast corner of First Street and Littler. It is set for completion in mid-2015.
The estimated cost for construction is $25.65 million. An additional $3.14 million is in the budget for a separate 15,000-square-foot Police Support Ancillary facility near 33rd and Broadway, plus $3.5 million to provide furniture, fixtures and equipment to both buildings. The total budget to complete the projects is estimated at $32.29 million, which is funded by a voter-approved half-cent sales tax.
“The Public Safety Center that is being built downtown is great because it keeps all those jobs and services downtown,” said local attorney and former mayor Randel Shadid.
Edmond police officers and public safety officials can look forward to state-of-the-art facilities that also pay tribute to the architectural history in downtown Edmond. The building will include brick and stone masonry, arched motifs and cast stone – all designed to fit seamlessly into the historic downtown landscape and set the standard for future development in the area. The architect for the project is Frankfurt Short Bruza, and the contractor is Timberlake Construction. FSB worked with consultants McClaren, Wilson and Lawrie to design the jail, which can accommodate 10 adult males and five adult females in holding cells.
“[The Public Safety Center] gives us room to grow. It’s state of the art, and quite possibly will be the best police department in the country.” - Edmond Police Chief Bob Ricks
“We are happy to be working with this team on such a top-notch facility,” said Edmond Police Chief Bob Ricks.
The building will allow room for more than 100 patrol division staff, 27 members of the criminal investigations division, 23 members of the special services division and an office for the chief of police with room to add a future staff of 21 in administrative roles.
In addition to police business, the center will include a 2,000-square-foot multipurpose room that will be available to the public. And should the lights go out, the center will be equipped with backup generators to keep things running in the event of a loss of power. It also will include a sidewalk along First Street that runs east and west, providing pedestrian access between downtown and the UCO campus to the east.
The communications department will move into a space that is designed to house five members of the administrative staff along with 35 dispatchers and communications systems specialists. The department also will have an operations center that can serve as a communications hub in the event of an emergency.
The ancillary building will include the property control division and its functions with evidence storage. The Technical Investigation Division will be housed in the building and will include laboratory intake, testing and processing of evidence and include a bay for crime scene vehicle storage.
“The Public Safety Center should be our police headquarters for the next 50 years,” Ricks said. “It’s been in discussion my entire career with Edmond, which is now in its 11th year. This building gives us room to grow. It’s state of the art, and quite possibly will be the best police department in the country.”
Downtown Past, Present And Future
In the mid- to late 1990s, Edmond leaders knew they would need a comprehensive plan to keep the area thriving. The result of those efforts was a Downtown Master Plan completed in 1998. Since that time, the plan has evolved to reflect the changing needs of Edmond’s downtown.
David Forrest, chairman of the Central Edmond Urban Development Board, said the initial plan set a series of goals and recommended the creation of the Central Edmond Urban Development Board to focus specifically on downtown.
“Due to the renewed focus on Edmond’s downtown, the private sector has jumped on the bandwagon and added several new restaurants and retail services to this area.” - CEUDB Chariman David Forrest
“Since that time, CEUDB has accomplished several of those original recommendations, which include the construction of the Downtown Festival Marketplace, extensive streetscape improvements and the creation of development guidelines for the downtown district,” he said.
Not content to rest on its laurels, the city updated the original 1998 plan for downtown last year with the creation of the 2014 Downtown Master Plan Update. Forrest said the ongoing efforts by the city to improve downtown have lured private sector investment.
“Due to the renewed focus on Edmond’s downtown, the private sector has jumped on the bandwagon and added several new restaurants and retail services to this area,” he said.
Some of those include Sprouts Farmers Market, Café Evoke, Sweeney McGann’s Irish-American Grill, Skinny Slim’s Public House and others.
In addition to its new retailers, downtown also has become home to several festivals. New hit Heard on Hurd closes a street for food trucks, pop-up shops and live music. Each week from April through October, the Edmond Farmers Market sets up shop downtown, and residents and visitors alike turn out for May’s Downtown Edmond Arts Festival.
Connecting downtown with UCO – and its more than 17,000 students – is another initiative city leaders hope to accomplish.
“The focus for all parties interested in Edmond’s downtown near-term and long-term future will be on strengthening the connection between UCO and downtown, addressing parking and pedestrian needs and finding ways to fund the various projects going forward,” said Forrest. “For example, establishing a TIF district [tax incremental financing] and BID [business improvement district] in this area will be explored in the near term.”
Looking ahead, Forrest said two projects to anticipate in the central business district are the Patriarch Craft Beer House and Lawn and the recently approved Plaza USA, a multi-tenant retail and commercial development that will include 15,584 square feet of space on the southeast corner of Campbell and Broadway.
Home Sweet Homes
Edmond has long been known as a city with an upscale housing market, but in the past few years things have been really booming, as home values have been rising and builders have begun erecting more homes east of Interstate 35.
The EEDA compiled numbers for all of 2013 and found 4,149 homes sold for a total volume of more than $1 billion. In that same year, there were 637 housing permits issued. For those permitted homes, excluding lot costs, the average price was $310,355. Edmond is on track to increase those numbers when 2014 figures are compiled, and new houses are popping up in new and established areas.
“New housing permits are being pulled all over the city,” Weinmeister said.
A map showing new residential building permits in the city from January 2013 through August 2014 showed clusters of homes in established areas, and home permits coming in for the far eastern reaches of the city limits. There were large clusters of residential permits filed in areas around Coffee Creek and Coltrane. Other busy areas were near Bryant and Coffee Creek, and Kelly and Coffee Creek. In the middle of Edmond and to the east, clusters of home permits were filed for areas around Air Depot and Sorghum Mill, near Danforth Road and between Sooner and Air Depot.
Average home sales prices continue to climb across Edmond: according to information from the Oklahoma City Metropolitan Association of Realtors, the average home sales price in 2013 was $257,290.
Shadid sees big things ahead for housing development in east Edmond.
“Nobody else does this in Oklahoma.” - Randel Shadid
“It’s beautiful land over there,” he said. “You’ve got hills, you’ve got trees, and in the past three to four years, a lot of that land has been opened up by water and sewer lines into the area so it allows for smaller acreage lot development.”
City services and rooftops will in turn spur more commercial development in that area, Shadid predicted.
“Commercial generally follows rooftops,” he said.
Keeping Creativity Strong
Edmond may have a strong retail and residential market, but no city is complete without an artistic component.
When Shadid left his post as mayor in the 1990s, he wanted to foster public art in the city. That idea spurred a public/private initiative to beautify the city.
“It’s been a very successful program,” Shadid said.
The project now is known as the Edmond Art in Public Places Program, and began in early 2000.
Artwork from around the country has been brought to town to enhance its artistic landscape; more than 160 pieces have been erected through the program. Shadid said it has been a team effort to bring meaningful art to Edmond.
“Nobody else does this in Oklahoma,” he said.