OKC Hopes Vacant Schools Can Attract Developers

Thursday, May 11th 2017, 6:40 pm
By: Karl Torp

Next month, neighbors in NE Oklahoma City will see a transformation at an abandoned school. For more than 20 years, the Page Woodson school at 600 N. High sat vacant. Next month it will open with 128 housing units.

“I think the whole neighborhood is excited about it,” said developer Ron Bradshaw.

Bradshaw is still building new units next door to the renovated building, near the OU Health Sciences Center.

The affordable housing was made possible through state and federal historic and low income tax credits.  OKC Tax Increment Financing dollars also assisted with the project.

“It was a very complicated transaction,” says Bradshaw.

But the city is trying to make the next similar project easier for developers willing to transform any of the five vacant schools in the district.

Right now, the city tells News 9 it's negotiating with OKC Public Schools. It's hoping OKCPS will simply give, for free, vacant school properties to developers willing to work right away.

The move would keep investors from buying the empty properties and sitting on them as an investment.

“We’ve been involved in talking with developers and other providers about ramping up affordable housing production,” said Ian Colgan, the Asst. Executive Dir. of the OKC Housing Authority.

On the day Ron Bradshaw bought Page Woodson school, another vacant school, Dunbar Elementary, was purchased at auction from the school district.

There was talk Dunbar would become a senior center, but today it still sits empty and chained up.