Let’s face it. If you live or play in Midtown these days, you’ve been in a building renovated by Midtown Renaissance. And that’s not a bad thing.
Midtown Renaissance has almost single-handedly resurrected Midtown into what it is today, and their work isn’t even close to being finished.
Last week at Oklahoma City University, the 16th Street Plaza District Association honored Midtown Renaissance as the recipient of the 2014 Urban Pioneer Award. The award “is given annually to individuals in the Oklahoma City community who exemplify Oklahoma’s pioneering spirit with their leadership and commitment to urban revitalization.”
For more than eight years, the development firm headed by Chris Fleming, Micky Clagg and Bob Howard (yes that Bob Howard), changed the way locals view our home, as well as Automobile Alley and the Medical Corridor. And instead of demolishing decaying buildings as OKC has done in years previous, they’ve resurrected existing ones.
Bank SNB (future residents of the newly renovated Buick building) President and CEO Marke Funke presented Midtown Renaissance with the award:
“What started out as an idea and a couple of projects has turned into a life time of work and a tremendous amount of passion for doing the right thing in keeping it going. They’re not just restoring buildings, they are bringing them and the neighborhood Midtown back to life. Apartments, pubs, restaurants, office space, hotels and retail development. An area that was virtually dead to the city is now vibrant. Attracting young people, businesses and all types of entertainment venues.”
Bob Howard reiterated at the event that he wanted Midtown to return to the vibrant neighborhood he remembered as a child.
“We wanted to create a neighborhood which had the things I had as a kid. Now, Midtown has taken on a life of it’s own and isn’t stopping.”
But if we’re to truly have a “renaissance” in Midtown, we need a cultural change, one that supports the local artists and freelancers that are slowly making their home here. And that’s something that will take more than beautiful buildings.
Regardless, Marke said it best:
“We call all be thankful to [Midtown Renaissance] for the risk that they took and are continuing to take.”