Developers Hope 'The Rise' Will Improve Dilapidated OKC District

Friday, November 14th 2014, 6:07 pm
By: News 9

More restaurants and shops are set to open this month along NW 23rd Street.

The new retail center is called 'The Rise,' which developers hope will turn around the dilapidated district.

Construction is well underway, and Gusto is just one of the restaurants at 23rd Street and Walker Avenue.

Chefs are trying out the menu for friends and family before the big grand opening.

"It's the first authentic Neapolitan pizza place in Oklahoma City," said co-owner Chris Lower.

The pizzas cook in about 90 seconds inside a 900-degree oven hand-built in Naples, Italy.

“We sort of built the building around it, it weighs 5,000 pounds, so we don't move it around much,” said Lower.

Serving everything from pizza to lamb chops, Gusto, which means 'taste' in Italian, will be giving just that to the Uptown 23rd District.

"If you told me 20 years ago, this would be developing this way, I wouldn't have believed it."

Chris Lower along with business partner Kathryn Mathis, also owns Big Truck Tacos, Mutt's Amazing Hot Dogs, and Back Door Barbecue all on 23rd Street.

Next door to Gusto is the Pump Bar, which will is also a part of The Rise.

"It's a shopping center, a mixed-use of restaurants and bars," said developer Johnathan Russell of Land Run Commercial Real Estate Advisors.

About a dozen shops will be inside the retail center, including a fitness center, furniture store, boutique and even a day spa.

“We just felt it was well-positioned, it's really right in the middle of great neighborhoods, it's on 23rd Street which is a very busy thoroughfare, close to the State Capitol and close to the University,” Russell said.

Costing about $6 million, Russell said he hopes The Rise will lift up the once booming shopping area.

“I think you'll see the area really come along now that this is going to be finished, I think you'll see these other shops start to transform,” he said.

Gusto, The Pump and fitness center are expected to open in the next couple of weeks, once the big parking lot completed.