Adventure District has huge economic development potential
When looking at locations across Oklahoma City where economic development attention could potentially yield a great return on our investment, one area that rises to the top of my list is the Adventure District.
The district is flush with destinations – the Oklahoma City Zoo, Science Museum Oklahoma, National Western Heritage and Cowboy Museum, Remington Park Racetrack and Casino, the Amateur Softball Association Softball Hall of Fame Complex and more. In the last decade, many of the attractions have expanded their facilities including the Zoo, Science Museum and USA softball facilities. The district also installed improved signage and wayfinding boards.
Another strength of the Adventure District is that people who live in central Oklahoma are very familiar with the area and what it offers. The majority of Adventure District visitors live in the metro area as it’s a perfect “staycation” for individuals and families who want to spend an entertaining weekend close to home.
The area has tremendous opportunities to attract visitors from outside of Oklahoma City. Periodic events may be one way to attract more people, but for a long-term solution, you have to look at what the district is missing. Currently, the area dining options are limited to food services inside the attractions including Bricktown Brewery and Henry Hudson’s in Remington Casino and three fast-food restaurants along Martin Luther King Avenue.
Another key to attracting visitors is retail. A recent report commissioned by the Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City and prepared by Economic & Planning Systems Inc. indicates the demand for 40,000 to 50,000 square feet of retail space to attract an anchor retailer. The best opportunity would come from entertainment-oriented retailers that would complement visitation to the area attractions and stay open past 5 p.m.
Finally, to keep the out-of-town visitors in the area, the Adventure District needs a hotel. Hotels have a multiplier effect: If families stay overnight in the area, they’re more likely to eat, spend money at retailers and take in a second attraction.
Further work is needed to solicit input from the area destinations, identify best potential locations for new development, identify and solicit interest from potential anchor retailers, and consider incentives that may be needed.