Leaders, officials gather to discuss Bricktown districtPublished: Wednesday, April 15, 2009 7:00 am By: Pamela A. Grady
State leaders, city officials and Oklahoma City leaders gathered in Bricktown April 15 to talk about the district's future.
During "State of Bricktown" held at Nonna's Euro-American Ristorante and Bar, First Lady Kim Henry, Mayor Mick Cornett, Lt. Gov. Jari Askins and Avis Scaramucci, and Executive Director of Bricktown Association Jim Cowan, expressed optimism regarding Bricktown's recent growth and its future as an entertainment district.
Askins said more Oklahomans and residents of surrounding states are looking to Bricktown as their getaway destination.
Traffic in Bricktown has increased by 45 percent going from 2 million visitors in 2007 to 2.9 million in 2008.
Cowan informed community members that more restaurants and businesses have opened in the area in the past year, first quarter's sales for 2009 have surpassed 2008's numbers, and almost every business in the Bricktown district is currently hiring.
"Depending upon the type of business, sales have increased between 10 to 20 percent," Cowan said. "We're very optimistic about the trends we saw over spring break. The whole month of March was phenomenal. From basketball tournaments to conventions, restaurants saw record weeks and even Water Taxi had a phenomenal increase that they'd never seen before."
Cowan said more activities will be taking place in the district. The sixth annual run benefitting Limbs for Life Foundation will take place in Bricktown in early May, and in June, Bricktown will host the National Harley Owners Group Convention.
"Bricktown will have the largest street and block party that we've ever seen," Cowan said.
This fall, Bricktown will add the American Banjo Museum and the Academy of Contemporary Music at the University of Central Oklahoma (School of Rock).
But while Cowan is glad to see that Bricktown is holding its own during this economy, he also expressed the need for further retail services in the area to meet the influx of new visitors coming to city.
"We have approximately 11 retail establishments," Cowan said. "It'll take some proactive work on our part and to work with the landowners to make it happen."
Cowan said consultants are being brought in to help develop a master plan for future development in Bricktown.
"With the help of these consultants and the city planning department, we're going to create a master plan for development," Cowan said. "One that takes into consideration everything that we have down here, embraces it, but then also helps us look to the future to find out what do we need to help complement it to make this district better and better."