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Urban outfitters



Construction began in January on the $24 million, 228-unit Level Urban Apartments at the corner of Northeast Second Street and Oklahoma Avenue.

According to local developer Richard McKown, who heads City Center Properties, the project will be a mixed-use community housed in a contemporary, four-story building with an urban grocer and a restaurant located on the first floor.

The sustainable development will offer active street edges, a transitional indoor-outdoor common area and a parking garage inside the building, which will span an entire city block.

The plan cleared hurdles at several levels of local government, including the Oklahoma City Council, the Downtown Design Review Committee and the Board of Adjustment.

above Developers of Level Urban Apartments hope to offer an urban grocer.

McKown said he expects to complete the project in spring 2012.

“We’re trying really hard to bring this thing out of the ground,” he said.

The project is the first of several in the Deep Deuce and Maywood Park neighborhoods. The Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority approved plans on Feb. 16 for a $16 million, 139-unit apartment complex at the corner of Northeast Fourth Street and Oklahoma Avenue. The project is headed by Ronald Bradshaw of Colony Partners, who is also a partner in the Brownstones at Maywood Park and the 2nd Street Lofts. Construction could start this summer.

Also, an $18 million Aloft hotel is planned to be built later this year at the corner of Northeast Second Street and Walnut. The seven-story, 130room hotel would feature restaurants and retail space.

McKown said the revitalization of downtown Oklahoma City is due in part thanks to proactive political endeavors like MAPS and Project 180, a three-year, $140 million redesign of downtown streets, sidewalks, parks and plazas to improve the appearance and make the central core more pedestrian-friendly.

Housing trends changing

Market research indicates that fewer young people are getting married and starting families. The average American household shrunk to 2.59 people last year, down from 2.62 in 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2010 Current Population Survey. This is partly due to a rise in one-person households, which topped 27 percent in 2010.

The national recession drove down large-home sales in the OKC metro, leading more people to purchase small suburban homes or to rent, McKown said.

Apartment occupancy rates in the suburban OKC metro area are also running at about 90 percent, while urban complexes such as Deep Deuce and Regency Tower Apartments are at 97 to 99 percent capacity, McKown said, adding that an analysis of the trends point to a reversal of urban sprawl and a renewed interest in downtown residential living.

“You have record numbers of young people who want to move downtown,” he said. “We feel there is a real strong demand for rental properties downtown.”

European influence

Level Urban Apartments was designed by London-based architecture firm Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, who is working with the local Architectural Design Group.

Oklahoma City has proved bountiful, as the British firm branched out to undertake a dozen projects here, said Wade Scaramucci, who is an associate director with AHMM and originally from Oklahoma City.

“Most of our competitors had picked the East Coast or the West Coast to go and try to do some more European-considered buildings there,” he said by telephone from London. “In a way, Oklahoma City is probably a much better place to do something like that. … I think there has been huge re-interest in the downtown environment, in density, and really making Oklahoma City a fantastic place to live, work and visit.”

Other urban renewal projects AHMM is working on includes a reinvention of an old warehouse located at Northeast 10th and Oklahoma, which envisages converting the dilapidated structure into a mixture of rental and private-living accommodations.

Another project, called Maywood Flatiron, would take an undeveloped triangular plot in a gateway location at the conjunction of Northeast Fourth Street, Harrison and Oklahoma and develop it to a 30,000 square-foot retail/office building. The proposal calls for restoring the historic building lines and utilizing the roof as a parking structure, Scaramucci said.

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