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Urban Core Values

OKC neighborhoods improving carefully



Constance Matheny sits on the front porch of her OKC home, built by the Positively Paseo organization.

 

Jessica Thompson is reminded of the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus when reflecting on the transformation taking place across many urban Oklahoma City neighborhoods, including her own in Classen Ten Penn.

 

“People say he just came in and said ‘I discovered America,’” says Thompson, who is a Realtor for Loxwood Realty. “You kind of see some of this neighborhood [redevelopment] as a modern-day Christopher Columbus. It’s easy for people to come into a neighborhood and try to improve it without any knowledge of what already exists and thinking they discovered it.”

Thompson’s critique of Columbus “discovering” a land that was already inhabited relates to today’s process of gentrification, which, like Columbus, is a concept that is celebrated or rebuked, depending on who you talk to.

Like nearly every major city in America, Oklahoma City experienced a mid-century exodus of affluent families from the urban core to outer suburbs, leaving lower-income and mostly minority residents behind. However, the injection of new investment in downtown and urban communities over the last decade has seen the return of more affluent residents, bringing with them higher housing prices and rents.

“Gentrification looks different in different cities,” says Shannon Entz, a senior planner with the city who works in the Classen Ten Penn community. “It’s happening in Oklahoma City, but maybe not at the same degree as places like Austin or Seattle.”

Both homeowners and investors are refurbishing older homes in the Classen Ten Penn neighborhood.


The public policy magazine Governing attempted one of the most in-depth looks at gentrification in America recently when it analyzed data in the nation’s 50 largest cities. The report named Portland, Washington, D.C., Minneapolis and Seattle as the top gentrifying cities. Oklahoma City landed in the middle of the list behind cities such as Nashville and Omaha, but ahead of cities such as Indianapolis and Milwaukee.

“Gentrification particularly accelerated in recent years as growing numbers of Americans opted to pursue urban lifestyles,” wrote Mike Maciag for Governing.

Last purchased for $32,000 fewer than than two years ago, a four-bedroom craftsman home in Classen Ten Penn at the corner of North Ellison and 11th Street is now listed at $245,000. It’s a higher-than-average asking price in this central Oklahoma City neighborhood, but it’s hardly the only home in the area fetching a quarter million dollars.

The Classen Ten Penn neighborhood, located south of the popular Plaza District, is still mostly made up of moderately priced homes that show their century-old age. But on nearly every block in this up-and-coming neighborhood there seem to be high-priced homes attracting an affluent owner in what was once strictly a low-income community.

Public records compiled by the real estate search engine Trulia show that in Classen Ten Penn the average for-sale price topped $100,000 in 2010 and is now close to breaking the $200,000 mark.

Keeping homes affordable helps keep families – pets and all – adding to the residential mix.


“Housing prices have gone up tremendously,” says Thompson, who began selling real estate in the neighborhood three years ago. “I’d say they’ve doubled in [my] time here.”

Aspects of gentrification have hit Classen Ten Penn, but rather than becoming a neighborhood-wide phenomenon, it appears to be occurring on a block-by-block, or even house-by-house basis.

“I do see property values increasing,” says Cayla Lewis, a Classen Ten Penn resident and member of its Neighborhood Association. “But this remains a diverse neighborhood and we kind of want it to stay that way. We aren’t trying to be a suburb here.”

A family making the census-reported city average of $45,000 a year can still find a sub-$100,000 house in Classen Ten Penn, but might find themselves priced out of nearby areas such as Mesta Park and Heritage Hills. Home values in those neighborhoods now average $350,000 – almost triple the average from a decade ago, according to Trulia.

By comparing income levels, housing prices and educational achievement between census data from 2000 and 2010, Governing’s research determined that nine specific tracts in Oklahoma City had gentrified during that time period. Three of those tracts were located north of 23rd Street in the neighborhoods of Jefferson Park, Central Park and the Paseo Arts District, where home values increased by as much as 77 percent.

Walkability to nearby amenities like the creatively thriving Paseo Arts District’s galleries is a boon to property values.


The rise in those home values comes at a time when the 23rd Street business corridor has exploded with growth as trendy restaurants and boutiques have made homes and apartments within walking distance more desirable.

“There is such a huge movement back to the urban area right now, and we are seeing prices go through the roof,” says Neila Crank-Clements, executive director of Positively Paseo, a nonprofit that revitalizes homes in urban OKC. “Our [organization] continues to focus on affordable housing so people of limited incomes can enjoy those amenities that are growing in the area.”

Some of the homes revitalized by Positively Paseo are sold below market value, offering lower-income families the chance to remain in urban neighborhoods like the Paseo Arts District and Classen Ten Penn.

“Diversity in anything is important in order to keep the momentum going,” Crank-Clements says. “And that includes neighborhoods. I think the best neighborhoods are those that are diverse.”

New skyscrapers full of high-paying jobs are attracting more affluent residents to the urban core, but there is also a growth of service-related jobs and other employment sectors that are crucial to city life, but may not offer the salary needed to buy a $250,000 home.

“When you think about all the people who live in a city, you have to think about people like education professionals who have lower salaries,” Crank-Clements says. “I think it’s important for them to live in these neighborhoods. There are also lots of pastors and retired people living on a pension. These types of [residents] kind of add to the diversity of neighborhoods, but it might be hard for them to find something that is affordable.”

Resident Valerie Wiegman in front of her home with Positively Paseo’s Nelia Crank-Clements


For Entz, whose planning department is working in three specific Oklahoma City neighborhoods, there is a difference between gentrification and general improvements that make a neighborhood safer and more attractive to all citizens.

“All three neighborhoods [we work in] through the Strategic Neighborhoods Initiative were really starting out with no investment,” Entz says. “But now we are seeing fewer boarded-up homes, more owner occupants and more stable renters.

“We are working to empower residents to contact the city and help improve their neighborhood. That includes those who already live in the neighborhood.”

Entz said her department also tries to pay attention to predatory actions by landlords who might be trying to make a quick buck. Thompson said she sees that side of development as a Realtor when attempts are made to purchase large amounts of property to be flipped for the highest bidder.

“Whenever people are wanting to move into an area, there are some people who want to take advantage of that,” Thompson says.

However, Oklahoma City has some advantages when it comes to avoiding the wave of gentrification seen in other cities. There remains a large housing stock in the urban core, and while salaries and costs of living have grown in recent years, they haven’t reached levels seen in places such as Austin and Seattle.

“In Seattle, any housing or community with any type of water view is going to fetch a lot,” Entz says. “Obviously, we don’t have that issue here. We are more like Austin, but even they have a university right in the heart of the city, and that has an impact.

“We have our own unique situation, and that means gentrification might not be the same here as it is in other cities.” 

 

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September 2018

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More than 20 speakers in a one-track session designed for the digital marketing professional, marketer, business owner or anyone interested in branding, PR, advertising, social media, SEO, search,...

Cost: $250

Where:
Tower Theatre
425 NW 23rd St
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
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Sponsor: BigWing
Telephone: 405.475.4185
Contact Name: Janelle Archer
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This year will mark the eighth time the John F. Kennedy Awards have been celebrated, honoring individuals making a significant contribution to Oklahoma, its communities and its people, while paying...

Cost: $300

Where:
Skirvin Hilton Hotel
1 Park Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Sponsor: Santa Fe Family Life Center
Telephone: 405-840-1817
Contact Name: James Timberlake
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More than 20 speakers in a one-track session designed for the digital marketing professional, marketer, business owner or anyone interested in branding, PR, advertising, social media, SEO, search,...

Cost: $250

Where:
Tower Theatre
425 NW 23rd St
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: BigWing
Telephone: 405.475.4185
Contact Name: Janelle Archer
Website »

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Price Tower Art Gallery in Bartlesville will host Women Artists of the West's 48th annual juried art exhibition, featuring over 200 original art works, created by women in all mediums, subjects...

Cost: Free 2018-09-21,22,23

Where:
Price Tower Art Gallery
510 S. Dewey Ave.
Bartlesville, OK  74003
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Sponsor: Price Tower Arts Center
Telephone: 918.336.4949
Contact Name: Angelina Bourgou
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Escape the ordinary, and learn about OKC from a different point of view. Relax in the climate controlled cabin on one of our 65’ cruisers, or enjoy the breeze on the viewing deck and listen...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
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A fabulous art auction to raise money to help support Oklahoma A+ Schools at UCO.

Cost: $100

Where:
CHK|Central Boathouse
732 Riversport Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73129
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Sponsor: Oklahoma A+ Schools at UCO
Telephone: 405.974.3791
Contact Name: Heather Bryant
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The evening Cocktail Cruise offers stunning views of the downtown skyline, the Boathouse District and Finish Line Tower, the Wheeler Ferris wheel and quite possibly an amazing Oklahoma sunset. Come...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

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Join supporters in communities across the nation for the St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. This family-friendly event raises funds to support the...

Cost: $10 for adults or children six and older

Where:
Stars and Stripes Park
3701 S. Lake Hefner Drive
Oklahoma City , OK  73116
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Telephone: 405.403.7762
Contact Name: Emily Drover
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Let’s end childhood cancer. Together! This September, supporters across the country will unite to participate in the St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer, an exciting, family-friendly...

Cost: $10 for Registration

Where:
Stars and Stripes Park
3701 S Lake Hefner Dr
Oklahoma City, OK  73116
View map »


Sponsor: ALSAC St. Jude Oklahoma City
Telephone: 405.403.7762
Contact Name: Emily Drover
Website »

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Price Tower Art Gallery in Bartlesville will host Women Artists of the West's 48th annual juried art exhibition, featuring over 200 original art works, created by women in all mediums, subjects...

Cost: Free 2018-09-21,22,23

Where:
Price Tower Art Gallery
510 S. Dewey Ave.
Bartlesville, OK  74003
View map »


Sponsor: Price Tower Arts Center
Telephone: 918.336.4949
Contact Name: Angelina Bourgou
Website »

More information

Escape the ordinary, and learn about OKC from a different point of view. Relax in the climate controlled cabin on one of our 65’ cruisers, or enjoy the breeze on the viewing deck and listen...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

More information

The evening Cocktail Cruise offers stunning views of the downtown skyline, the Boathouse District and Finish Line Tower, the Wheeler Ferris wheel and quite possibly an amazing Oklahoma sunset. Come...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

More information

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