Big changes are coming to the Uptown 23rd area. A new retail development is in the works, which includes several shops, restaurants and bars. Developers are hoping it will revitalize a once thriving, historic neighborhood.
Walking down Northwest 23rd street, you don't see much traffic, but one Oklahoma City developer is planning to transform a dilapidated building into the ultimate retail destination.
Cheever's Cafe has been in business for 13 years. Its owner Keith Paul says he's seen the good, bad and the ugly along 23rd Street.
"It was a real struggle in the early years," said Paul, who co-founded A Good Egg Dining Group, with his wife Heather. "Everything is changing, and we're just looking for progress, you know. Fast or slow, we'll take progress in general."
Progress is coming. One change is a new retail development called The Rise, inside the old Hotel and Motel Furniture Liquidators store. The building will be renovated to include a score of restaurants, bars and shops.
"It's on a great corner, with great traffic. It has a strip-mall center feel," said Johnathan Russell, The Rise developer, and president of Land Run Commercial Real Estate Advisors. "We're about 90 percent pre-leased, and we really haven't started full construction yet, which is unheard of, so the response has been overwhelming."
Residents in the metro hope The Rise will do just that to the historic Uptown neighborhood.
"I think it will be very good for this area," said OKC resident David Kerrigan. "I would love to see more development down here. At one time, it was a thriving area. I'd to see it get back to there."
Russell says The Rise will be unlike anything else in Oklahoma City. It will include a Teahouse, cigar lounge, Pilates studio, fitness center, T-shirt design shop, oyster bar and tanning salon. Plus a 160-car parking lot will be in the back of the building. Nearby businesses like Cheever's can't wait.
"Restaurants, retail or barbershops, we want it all, the more people, the better," Paul said.
Russell says The Rise development will cost several million dollars, and there's still space left for potential tenants. Construction is expected to start in about two more weeks and should be completed by late Spring for a grand opening.