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  • Cathy O’Connor

2021 planning lays groundwork for future economic development

Looking at the most significant economic development projects for our city in 2021, two that I’m most anticipating are historic preservation projects in northeast Oklahoma City.

Last summer, two of Oklahoma City’s African American historic sites, the Lyons Mansion and Brockway Center, received funding from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, provided through the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund. The funding is being used for a local planning process that includes a reuse feasibility study and business plan for each property.

We have a schedule for public input that starts later this year and I look forward to hearing ideas and needs from citizens, business owners and leadership, especially those who live, work and represent northeast Oklahoma City. Those community-driven planning processes will be complete in 2021 and we’ll soon have a new vision for how these significant landmarks will serve and support our citizens in the near future.

Both sites are currently vacant, in need of restoration and are two of only a few historically significant African American landmarks still standing in Oklahoma City’s urban core. Lyons Mansion was purchased in the last few years by Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority and Brockway Center was acquired last year and saved from demolition by the Oklahoma City Redevelopment Authority.

We recently started the Economic Recovery and Resiliency Study with Ernst & Young to identify incentives and programs to help businesses recover from the effects of COVID-19, especially small and minority-owned businesses.

Another planning process is for Stockyards City. We are currently surveying residents, business owners and those who visit Oklahoma City in the cattle or equine industries to collect opinions that will help inform future development and improvements in the Oklahoma Stockyards City area and where that district intersects the Oklahoma River. This area is ripe for development that will support the culture and history of the area while offering new amenities and attractions.

Our planning and community input processes are important in preserving the culture and history of some of our city’s most unique districts and assets. I’m proud to see that our city is committed to the rebirth and activation of these historic jewels of Oklahoma City’s past and look forward to working with the community to preserve, celebrate and reinvest in them.

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