One Oklahoma town is redeveloping and moving itself forward, by going back to its roots.
Midwest City redeveloped the business part of its "original mile" a few years back. Now, a new revitalization plan is in place for the city's first neighborhood.
Established in 1942, Midwest City was a one-square-mile area that held homes, a school, a park, and a retail district. The neighborhood was developed to house employees of nearby Midwest Air Depot, later renamed Tinker Air Force Base. Both the city and TAFB have grown substantially since those early days, and time has taken its toll on the old neighborhood.
City planners have developed a long-range plan for the blighted neighborhood that includes new streets, new facades, mixed-use development, and even a neighborhood amphitheater.
Midwest City's Community Development Department director Billy Harless said although the plan is an ambitious one, the wheels are already turning.
"We've already started working on the plan," said Harless. "The plan lays out a lot of different things for the original square mile, and we are sorting through those looking to where we can go get money for some of those."
The aging neighborhood has a good infrastructure, according to Harless.
"It has great bones," Harless said. "So we're just gonna help out with the redevelopment of it."
"I will stand behind that and all the people that live here," agreed Bobbie Holland, president of the local homeowners association. "It has wonderful bones."
Michael Thompson lived in the "original mile" years ago but spent the last twenty-plus living on the east coast and just moved back recently. He agrees that the area needs help, but hopes that developers keep in mind the original charm of the area.
"You don't need a total makeover," said Thompson. "Just put the shine back on the way it was."
No funding mechanisms for the plan have been formally announced, but Harless said that planners are actively seeking grants and programs to put the plan into high gear. Harless also said that a "demonstration block" should be in place in the neighborhood by year's end.