On the corner of Park Place and Hudson Ave a new addition to Midtown is on the way. Its different than your typical development and is significant in a way you might not expect. Midtown Mutts is a dog park concept conceived by Midtown Renaissance. Pet owners in Midtown are clearly excited, but we’ll tell you why even non-pet owners have good reason to pay attention to whats going on.
Standing on the roundabout in Midtown Plaza looking northeast you’ll see a parking lot, dumpster, and a vacant grass lot north of Brown’s Bakery. Driving past it you’ve probably overlooked the site because it’s dull and forgettable. Last time we visited the site for Midtown Trash Pickup Day and collected litter strewn about the property. We found a broken manhole cover for a buried water main exposed along the crumbling sidewalks, among other signs of total abandonment. That’s where Midtown Mutts will be.[iframe src=”https://maps.google.com/maps?q=Midtown,+Oklahoma+City,+OK&hl=en&ll=35.479193,-97.519718&spn=0.002202,0.00327&sll=35.309049,-98.716558&sspn=6.39034,13.392334&oq=Midtown+Ok&t=h&hnear=Midtown,+Oklahoma+City,+Oklahoma&z=19″ width=”100%” height=”500″]
Here is a platted layout of the dog park:
A shipping container, similar to the one on 9th Street, is planned as a gateway and facility to serve the dog park. Pet owners at the park will have access to clean up stations, benches, a canopy, and a fenced perimeter enclosing the off-leash play area for their pups. Locals look at the site and see great potential for a public space, and not just for their dogs, but to meet neighbors and friends alike. The dog park design was created by Midtown resident, sculptor, artist, and architectural designer Larry Dean Pickering.
The dog park installment will be short term, however. Midtown Renaissance took a long look at their development plans. They’ve got several other projects lined up for other Midtown properties and this particular lot is not scheduled for development for another 4 or 5 years. They wanted to provide their Midtown tenants (and other Midtowners) a new amenity. The idea of what to do with the vacant lot and how to provide a new amenity birthed the vision for a dog park. The design challenges for the project are cost-limited, because, after all, no direct profit will be generated from a dog park. They also need to be able to easily construct and then later remove the dog park facilities to make way for future construction. It needs to be impermanent and portable, inexpensive and easy to do, all at the same time.
If the Downtown Design Review Committee is comfortable with the impermanence and portability of the dog park concept the implications could be staggeringly positive for Midtown. According to the Midtown Plan nearly 50% of Midtown is covered by surface parking or vacant lots, just like this one. While some of these properties have construction projects ready to break ground others are not scheduled for development for 4-5 years. Some properties have no development plan at all.
As of this writing Midtown Mutts is being reviewed by the City of Oklahoma City for approvals. If the permitting process goes well it should be underway sometime in August. It’s still not official yet.[quote]In urban cores across the United States a movement is growing to reclaim abandoned properties and turn them into temporary public spaces.[/quote]
In urban cores across the United States a movement is growing to reclaim abandoned properties and turn them into temporary public spaces. Like this, this, this, this, this, and this. We’re talking about parks, park-lets, courtyards, gardens, urban farms, community gardens, skate parks, pop-up shopping centers, pop-up sports parks, seasonal shops, experimental businesses, and so forth. Sometimes this is called the “Pop-Up City“. The benefits of re-purposing vacant land and abandoned buildings to local businesses and residents are strong. It will boost property values. Urban temporary re-use projects yield immediate rewards back to the local community. Midtown Mutt’s will be the our first ever dog park. More importantly, it will be a “first of kind” temporary re-use of vacant lots concept in Midtown. If allowed by the City, we hope it will set a precedent for future, more creative projects on the surplus of vacant property in Midtown.
The time is ripe for more pop-up projects. Developers shouldn’t have to shoulder the entire burden either. A partnership between 501(c)3 organizations, land owners, the City of Oklahoma City, and the community could result in fantastic new concepts just like this one.