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  • Steve Lackmeyer

blighted shopping center to get a makeover

When the Northeast Shopping Center first opened in the early 1960s, it was a source of pride for northeast Oklahoma City — home to a Safeway grocery store, Cherry’s Cafeteria, a TG&Y and the same sort of variety retailers featured in similar developments popping up throughout the city.

But by the 1990s, the shopping center was a ghost of its former self, littered with empty storefronts, bars on shop windows and weeds in a largely vacant sprawling parking lot.

The history of the property was enough to provoke an outburst by John Pettis early in his first term as the Ward 7 City Councilman against the owner, Charles Shadid. But after two years of discussions, Pettis and Shadid are announcing a redevelopment of the shopping center that is close to including a grocer as its anchor tenant.

The development is being led and designed by architect Rick Brown, who mostly recently oversaw the makeover of Boulevard Shopping Center at 33rd and Boulevard in Edmond, and whose portfolio includes the 2002 reconstruction of the Civic Center Music Hall auditorium. Brown is also Shadid’s son-in-law and has been a part of the discussion of the property’s fate for the past few years.

“We feel like the time is right, the demand is there, and we believe we can provide a great product to the northeast community,” Brown said. “Nobody will recognize what will be here versus what is here today. The shopping center, the parking lot, everything will be redone. The only thing that will be retained is the skeleton of the shopping center, which is in good condition.”

The Northeast Shopping Center sits on 8.62 acres on a prominent corner and spans almost 100,000 square feet of retail space.

Both Brown and Pettis say the development wouldn’t be thinkable without a series of conversations that followed an emotional admonishment by Pettis against Shadid about the condition of the Northeast Shopping Center and the Park Estates Plaza across the street.

Pettis struck an early victory last year when he worked with The Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City to create a tax increment financing zone that includes both the NE 36 and Kelly and the NE 23 and Martin Luther King commercial corridors. The zone, which directs tax increments back into area developments, was accompanied by an agreement struck with the owners of Buy for Less and Uptown Market to build a new grocery and shopping center at NE 23 and Martin Luther King.

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