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Bricktown merchant mourns death of district's pioneer



Jim Cowan remembers the Fourth of July celebration in Bricktown nearly a decade ago. The Bricktown Canal had just opened and 1999 was going to be the first holiday celebration for the area. Cowan remembers Jim Brewer telling him thousands of people would show up for the event.

Cowan, former owner of Bricktown Brewery, was skeptical of his friend's prediction. After all, the canal had just opened and the Bricktown area mainly consisted of a couple of restaurants and some dirt.

It turned out more than 50,000 people showed up for the fireworks display. Brewer got it right.

"His belief was people were excited about something new," Cowan said. "I doubted him until then."

When it came to Bricktown, doubting Brewer was a mistake. The self-proclaimed mayor of Bricktown died this week at the age of 71. His name is synonymous with one of the most successful endeavors in Oklahoma City history.

The revitalized district next to downtown was made possible after voters approved a sales tax measure in the mid 1990s. The citizens gave their money, but it was due to patrons like Brewer who foreshadowed the dream to make it possible.

"Jim was about the future," Cowan said. "He was looked upon as a guy who knew what was going. He always had an answer, not just what was but what was going to be."

The owner of Brewer Enterprises and Brewer Entertainment, Jim Brewer heavily invested in the central part of Oklahoma City in the 1980s when no one thought much of the property. It is now the premier entertainment district in the state and has put the city on the national stage.

Brewer was the first president of the Bricktown Association. His businesses operate several Oklahoma City venues including the Bricktown Ballroom, Santa Fe Train Depot, the Coca Cola Events Center and Bricktown Live. Brewer has also produced several special events like the St. Patrick's Day celebration, Reggaefest and Oktoberfest.

As Cowan said, "They guy slept thinking about Bricktown."

An American flag was lowered to half staff in Brewer's honor in Bricktown. "Scott Cooper

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