Oklahoma City's booming 16th Street Plaza District is experiencing growing pains, and officials are tackling it with a fresh study. New businesses are set to open in the area, which is bringing along concerns for parking.
Oklahoma City and the Institute of Quality Communities at the University of Oklahoma are working on a study to find a solution for the district's parking woes. On Friday, Shane Hampton was busy counting cars every hour, on the hour –- covering the entire district between Classen and Penn. on NW 16th Street.
"It's a little hidden village between two neighborhoods," executive director Kristen Vails of the Plaza District Association said.
The village, catering to the arts community, isn't much of a secret anymore. It has gained popularity in recent months with restaurant and bar openings. Plus, the district's "Live On The Plaza" event draws large crowds on the second Friday of each month. In a city where just about everyone drives, parking is now the topic of conversation.
"There's just not enough room," said patron Maxton Harris. "People are parking all over the neighborhoods. I ride my bike sometimes just to avoid it."
Vails is encouraging more walking and biking while considering many different solutions. Some business owners are looking at the positives of the current situation. Pie Junkie co-owner Darcy Schein said walking isn't so bad, especially for a slice of pie!
"We're just a little tiny shop, so it's nice to have people walking by and strolling the district," Schein said.
Schein said much of her business comes from foot traffic. She said her business has been a success in its first nine months of operation, and it's only getting sweeter. People working on the current parking study hope to keep it that way.
Two new businesses are already set to open in the district this year. The area is currently 96 percent full, according to Vails.