POSTED ON SEPTEMBER 12, 2012:
Love Letters, hate mail
There are always those who look at any social situation and see things differently. When it comes to Downtown Tulsa there are those who say that Downtown Tulsa has turned the corner and that it is getting better and better literally by the day. There are others who are not so sure that the expenditure of the hundreds of millions in public funds that have been expended on improvements to Downtown Tulsa has achieved or will achieve the desired result, i.e., a vibrant center city location where more and more people will live, work and play.
There is no question that the BOK Center and ONEOK Field have drawn hundreds of thousands of people into Downtown Tulsa from the City, County and Region attend entertainment events. These two general public improvement venues cost more than two hundred million in sales tax revenues and money extracted from Downtown property owners. The City has also loaned or given various developers millions to facilitate the conversion of empty 80+ office buildings into apartments. The publically financed expenditures combined with business and philanthropically funded ventures by the Kaiser family, the Zarrow family, the Snyders, the Sharps, and others have certainly improved the Brady District in particular. All of above, which is positive, supports the view of the half full crowd that things Downtown are great and getting better.
On the other hand, the half empty crowd point to the closure of Mid-First Bank Branch, the Doll House, Burchart's and other retail business and the loss of Downtown business day jobs prove that the glass emptier. I have to admit that I am with the half empty crowd. My businesses are located in the core of the IDL and I live in what I call the Southwest Residential District (South and West of 6th and Denver). The situation where I work and live isn't improving.
There is no question that a room full of half full and half empty folks would result in a vigorous debate with each fielding its own examples of what is and is not working. What is patently clear is that changing the dynamics of how one of the Downtown districts or neighborhoods works can cause property owners and business types to invest based on the belief that there is or will be demand for the good or service that they have offer.
John Snyder and David Sharp, for example, certainly must believe that the investments that they are making are reasonable and prudent. Others are still packing up and leaving. I believe that our Downtown is still declining.
From where I sit, now as I write this (7th and Elwood), most of the Downtown Tulsa glasses, e.g., The Core Financial District, Southwest Residential District, East Village, etc., are getting emptier. I attribute this to the refusal of the City to address how Downtown Tulsa works. It is certainly possible to entice people Downtown to see a show at the BOK Center, watch a ball game at ONEOK Park or enjoy a turkey leg at Mayfest but they do not stay. Downtown Tulsa is not sticky. They do not stay.
Downtown Tulsa needs to be friendlier.
I do not believe that Downtown Tulsa will ever flourish until the City changes the way it works. It must reduce the number of one-way streets. It must make it easier and cheaper to park a car both on and off the street. It must improve visitor's sense of security. These are all things that they City and only the City can change and it simply has not done enough to fundamentally change any of the forgoing. Until the City makes Downtown Tulsa a friendlier place to work, play and live, the glass remains half empty to me.
--Kent Morlan, Esq.
What was Romney Thinking?
Putting all that money offshore and leaving it there? Is he running for American President or African Dictator? He should just admit he made a mistake and repatriate it yesterday. Then make up for it by putting his Republican money where his trickle-down mouth is. Invest it in small businesses. For example, a blind angel trust, or kickstarter.com, small business loans, some incubators. Make up for the Medicaid losses of 5000 people in poverty who start small businesses. Show up at a gun show, an arts and crafts fair, and a farmer's market, buy a bunch of stuff, look around and ask, "Has anyone seen President Obama?" Surely as a businessman, he can think of many more.
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