The Culbertson’s East Highland neighborhood in northeast Oklahoma City is getting new neighbors and new houses – nine to be exact. The construction is part of Progress OKC’s efforts to build quality, energy-efficient housing. The homes are being built on Euclid Avenue on lots owned by the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority. More than half of Euclid Avenue was dotted with vacant lots where homes had collapsed or been torn down.
“We are filling in the missing pieces to grow the neighborhood and community,” said Neila Crank-Clements, Progress OKC Executive Director. “The new construction encourages home ownership and helps to revitalize the area.”
Progress OKC selected as the developer after a competitive process through OCURA.The first phase of construction is nearly complete with four houses expected to be move-in ready by May. Phase two and three will be an additional five houses with a completion date in 2018-2019. All of the homes are energy-efficient with large front porches, and many include an attached two-car garage.
“We want to provide opportunities for neighbors to get to know one another,” Crank-Clements said. “Having a front porch invites people to sit outside and visit, look out for their neighbors and engage with people passing by.”
Investing in the future
The two and three-bedroom homes range in size from 1,100 sq. ft to just over 1,300 sq. ft and range in cost from $119,900 to $147,000. Verbode is the realtor for the properties.
Diversity is important to the revitalization effort, including a diversified income base. Some of the homes will be sold at market rate and others will qualify for down payment assistance. To qualify for assistance, the buyer must be at or below 80 percent of the area median income. The down payment assistance can be up to $14,299. Crank-Clements said buyers who receive down payment assistance will be required to stay in the home for five years.
“This is an investment in the neighborhood, financially and socially. Homeowners who stay in the neighborhood long-term can build equity, take pride and ownership in maintaining their homes and build relationships with neighbors and families. It’s these residents that make a strong neighborhood.”
Interest in the new homes has come from people new to the area, people who already live in the neighborhood and those who want to move back into the neighborhood.
The interest has also influenced the rest of the neighborhood.
“There has been a lot of new traffic and people are noticing,” said Ashley Dickson Oso, a longtime Culbertson’s East Highland resident. Oso grew up in the neighborhood and the home she lives in now has been in her family since 1960.
“Since the new construction, the neighbors are taking more pride in their own homes, taking more interest in the upkeep and maintenance and the visual appeal,” she added.
So, what’s next after these initial nine homes? Progress OKC plans to continue focusing on infill development and will also create a home rehabilitation program.
“This is just one neighborhood in northeast Oklahoma City,” Crank-Clements said. “There is a great need for sustainable housing in our city and no shortage of opportunity.
Where Progress OKC needs help now is with financial institutions investing in these opportunities.“We need partners with financial institutions who have an interest in investing in NE OKC by way of providing home loans to buyers and construction loans,” she explained.
“For revitalization to work, it is important that the community sees new construction and know that people are investing in their future and in the future of their neighborhood.”
Already, Oso can see how the new homes will benefit Culbertson’s East Highland.
“This is a preview for what’s to come,” Oso said. For the first time in a while, Oso envisions a neighborhood with new families embracing this community’s history as well as celebrating its future.