Once-decrepit Oklahoma City street blooms into retail, restaurant area

Published: Saturday, November 14, 2009 7:00 am By: Steve Lackmeyer

The Oklahoman
by Steve Lackmeyer

Just three years ago, the stretch of NW 9 just east of Broadway was a blighted mess lined with boarded up houses masked by overgrown brush and trees and homeless folks living in parked cars.

Now, the street is home to a popular restaurant, a cupcake bakery and soon a home accessories gift shop, photography studio, sushi restaurant and even a Christmas tree lot.

Those moving into one of the homes include a contractor who initially urged property owners to tear them down.

Adam and Brittany Branscum got their first glimpse of the street soon after the opening of the Iguana Mexican Grill at 9 NW 9.

When they saw white boxes coming into the restaurant from Sara Sara Cupcakes next door, they capped off their meal with some desert and then inquired about vacant land for sale across the street.

Developer Steve Mason had already bought the lot, but he asked Adam Branscum, a contractor, to bid on renovating the dilapidated houses at 3 NW 9 and 1 NW 9.

"There was water and fire damage," Adam Branscum said. "We had to redo the foundations. The left side of one home had rotted out."

Branscum provided two bids - one to renovate the houses, the other to tear them down. He urged Mason to consider the second bid - a recommendation Mason declined.

"They should have been torn down," Adam Branscum said. "The first time I stepped on the porch, I fell through."

Flash forward several months, and it's the Branscums who have caught Mason's vision for the strip and are opening BD Home home furnishings and gift shop in the same house Adam Branscum sought to raze.

Brittany Branscum graduated with an interior design degree, but burn-out after college led her to work as a contract land acquisition agent for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.

"I needed a change in scenery," Brittany Branscum said. "But now I've come back to what I love - and this is something I always wanted to do."

The Branscums already were urban dwellers, having lived in a modern home in the nearby Oklahoma Health Center for the past three years. Brittany Branscum said she first looked for potential shop locations in Bricktown before being courted by Mason to open her business in one of the houses being renovated by her husband.

The old house, she said, helps accentuate the modern furnishings and gifts inside.

"We're doing classic modern design furniture with new modern furniture," Brittany Branscum said. "We want to expand people's horizons."

She said she also hopes to provide a place for downtown-area residents to shop for gifts and accessories. She has spent the past week stocking shelves with lights, place mats, glassware and serving pieces and setting up displays of furniture,

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