Pearl District Public Forum. A proposal to regulate building development throughout the Pearl District would shrink dramatically under a recommendation made by planning staff at a July 11 meeting of the Tulsa Metro Area Planning Commission.
No formal vote will take place until at least Aug. 1, but commissioners voiced few objections to reducing the area affected by regulations emphasizing sidewalk-friendly building designs and mixed-use development, steps advocates say might help revitalize a still-struggling neighborhood east of downtown.
A public input session will be held at 6pm on July 24 in Central Center at Centennial Park, 1028 East 6th St., to showcase the concept known as a form-based code to property owners in the roughly 70-block area south of I-244.
Possibly now left out of the plan would be roughly 25 blocks north of railroad tracks that cut across the district.
The proposed change comes after vocal opposition from several business and property owners concerned about how the new regulations might affect future uses of their property, though the regulations, if adopted, would not require changes to existing structures.
But if those voices spurred a desire for compromise, it's a 2006 policy that guided the specific recommendation to decrease the proposal's area, according to Dawn Warrick, the city's planning and economic development director.
The earlier policy, called the 6th Street Infill Plan, identified much of the area in the Pearl District north of the railroad tracks as industrial and "highway commercial" subareas.
Infill, defined in that policy as "new development in older, previously-developed neighborhoods," often involves the reuse or repurposing of older buildings, which proponents of the code note are plentiful in the Pearl District.
Warrick told planning commissioners that not focusing on warehousing and manufacturing sites better matches the intent and wording of the 6th Street Infill Plan, "and that's really what the charge is, to take that policy and apply it through these tools so the development matches the policy."
Warrick said that for areas identified as manufacturing or auto-centric, "staff feels there is no purpose in imposing the regulating plan on those areas."
She also recommended having a transition period lasting between 12 and 18 months during which the new regulations would not apply, giving property owners intent on making changes under the old regulations time to complete their projects.
Food Trailer Park. It may just be a vacant lot now, but two food truck chefs have big plans for the northwest corner of East 6th Street and South Quincy Avenue.
The plan is for four food trucks to set up shop, assembling a variety of culinary talents to give Tulsans a taste of something new.
"We look at it as kind of like a restaurant where they have more variety of what they can get to eat," said Mitch Neely, who operates Grub Truck.
His specialty is American fare, with a rotating menu featuring more than just burgers. Veggie wraps, blackened cod and chorizo tacos might be served on any given day, with sides like sweet tater tots and parsley-and-garlic-salt tossed fries.
"I'm trying to just make American food, good quality from scratch American food," Neely said. He's able to process credit-card orders, and, for now, has set up shop downtown at East 11th Street and South Elgin Avenue.
In a few weeks, Neely said the Pearl District site will likely be up and running. Philip Phillips and his Lone Wolf Banh Mi specialty truck plan to open soon, offering fusion flavor in the form of Vietnamese-inspired sandwiches he described as "like an Asian Philly cheese steak" with fresh vegetables for a "no regret" meal.
"I've been trying to do this basically for about six years now here in town," said Phillips. Food trucks give good cooks a chance to make a name for themselves even if they don't have the capital to open up a full restaurant, he said.
Phillips and his fiancé and business partner, Danielle Admire, have struggled finding a commissary kitchen to prepare and store food, a requirement in Tulsa but a scarcity in the area, Phillips said.
Neely said he knows of one other candidate to also set up shop onto the site, located adjacent to some boarded up houses but only a block from some businesses near the East 6th Street and South Peoria Avenue intersection. Neely said he expects the site to offer outdoor seating.
Food trucks have proven popular in larger cities like Portland and Austin, and "we hope to push this culture into the mainstream here in Tulsa," Phillips said.
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