Wheeler District Development Plans Start To Take Shape

Thursday, July 17th 2014, 8:10 pm
By: News 9

Plans for Oklahoma City's Wheeler District are starting to take shape after hundreds of people showed up to a series of brainstorming sessions to add their input in the future designs. These designs included houses, schools, shops and even a ferris wheel.

Right now, the downtown Airpark area may not look like much, but in a few years, developers see it taking on the look of a premiere neighborhood.

Sketches are turning into concrete designs for Wheeler District developer Blair Humphreys.

“It’ll have places to shop, places to eat, potential breweries, great public spaces, especially the streets that are working for cars and working well for people and bikes,” Humphreys said.

The property south of the Oklahoma River, surrounding Western Avenue, is expected to have plenty of homes, a private and public school and a 90-foot tall ferris wheel from the Santa Monica Pier that Humphreys' brother Grant bought off eBay years ago for more than $135,000.

7/10/2014 Related Story: Design Group Plans Development Along Oklahoma River

“You’ll be able to see the lights of the ferris wheel, shining and reflecting in the river,” Humphreys explained.

Hundreds of people packed rooms and put markers to paper at the public design charrettes.

Humphreys says there were about 240 people spread across 24 tables, and one table introduced the plan of a traffic circle or roundabout.

People also asked for a way to keep the old runway as a memory line, so the developers worked to incorporate it and are going to make it a grassy corridor and bike path.

“From everything we see, Oklahoma City’s economy is bright, it’s future strong, and projects like this are very, very viable,” Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett said.

Mayor Cornett said the Wheeler District will help the city prosper.

“We have someone who wants to build a neighborhood, and they’re not trying to do it 15 miles from downtown,” said Mayor Cornett. “I mean that’s, that’s an exciting revelation for this city to have an investment this large in what I would call the inner city.”

As for the ferris wheel, Humphreys said it’s having new lights installed now in Kansas, and they hope to have it set up next year.

Humphreys said they expect to have the first residents moving in by 2016, though all plans for the Wheeler District could take at least eight to 10 years to be completed.