Core to Shore: What's there now

Published: Monday, February 9, 2009 7:00 am By: Kelley Chambers

The Journal Record

OKLAHOMA CITY -- When Russell Claus looks south of downtown Oklahoma City he sees the future.

When Bob Massey looks north toward downtown from his business he sees an uncertain future.

Claus, Oklahoma City's planning director, is charged with overseeing an ambitious plan to redevelop 750 acres between the central business district and the north bank of the Oklahoma River.

Massey, owner of Massey's Accessory Shop at 1319 S. Robinson Ave., runs the business his family started in 1927 and knows within the next few years the business will need to find a new home.

Meetings for the Core to Shore project began in 2006 to determine the best use of the land. One of the main motivators was the movement of Interstate 40 about seven blocks to the south by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.

When the highway is moved, scheduled for completion in 2012, the existing bridges will come down and the city has plans for a grand boulevard.

But many areas of Core to Shore are privately owned.

Claus said that it is a long-range project.

"Because of the size of the area that we're looking at it's going to take a very long time to redevelop," he said. "It will be several decades."

For the next few years the city is focused on the area between the existing I-40 and the realigned highway.

One piece of the puzzle has already been purchased to contribute to a large park. The city recently acquired the former U.S. Postal Service main branch, at 320 SW Fifth St., after the City Council approved the $3.68 million purchase in March.

Claus said he would like to see the park completed by 2014 to coincide with the new boulevard.

Much of the rest of the area is still a big question mark for planners and property owners.

The area, bordered by Western Avenue on the west, Lincoln Boulevard and Byers Avenue on the east, the current Interstate 40 and the Oklahoma River on the south, is populated by vacant land, railroad tracks, salvage yards and old homes.

In 2008 the Core to Shore steering committee released its report that showed parks, residential units, a convention center and water features. Salvage yards are not in the cards.

Some property owners see it as a blessing as downtown eventually creeps south, while others wonder about the fate of businesses, many of which have been family-owned for decades.

Massey said he would prefer to be left alone. Initial drawings show a park where his business stands.

He said a move will be costly, and could hurt business.

"We've been on the street in excess of 80 years," Massey said. "Customers know exactly where to come. I'll lose all that residual business."

Massey said he has received few reassurances from the city other than that Core to Shore will not reach his area until at

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