Chicago-based Perkins+Will to plan Innovation District

Published: Thursday, March 29, 2018 By: Molly M. Fleming Source: The Journal Record

Roy Williams reminded city business leaders and civically engaged residents that there’s a 10-year road map to create the Innovation District.

The Greater Oklahoma City Chamber president and CEO gave an update about the district during Wednesday’s Mayor’s Development Roundtable. The district stretches north and south from NW 13 Street to Fourth Street, southeast to the railroad tracks, east to Lottie Avenue, and west to Robinson Avenue.

The Brookings Institution and the Project for Public Spaces started studying the area in October 2015. Their findings showed the district had potential to be a hub for new ideas and getting them to market. Now, the entities involved in the district are negotiating a contract with the Perkins+Will architecture firm, which will create a master plan for the area. The firm’s closest office is in Austin, Texas.

The Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City is finalizing the contract with the firm, which should be completed in a couple of weeks. President and CEO Cathy O’Connor said the master plan should take about a year. The final results should give direction on where more retail, office space, and housing can be added.

The Brookings Institution found that there’s potential for the district to bring innovative energy or medical-related products to market. The master plan should help find what’s the best place for those types of facilities.

“(The plan will find) what’s needed to support the innovation economy that we’re trying to put more effort into,” O’Connor said.

Perkins+Will’s work will be paid for by the alliance, the state Office of Management and Enterprise Services, the Oklahoma Health Center Foundation, the Presbyterian Health Foundation, and the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

The alliance, OUHSC, the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, the health center foundation and PHF are helping to find an executive director for the district.

The health center foundation is reinventing itself to take on overseeing the Innovation District.

Foundation President Terry Taylor said there is a nationwide search to find the next director. The foundation is working with a national search firm to find the right person. He said there have been a few interviews with potential directors. He said he thinks someone should be hired in the next six months.

During his presentation, Williams showed images of Innovation Link, a land-cover bridge that was proposed by Miles & Associates architects. The $200 million OKC Innovation Link would span from NE 13th Street to NE Eighth Street, over Interstate 235. It would go only as far east as Oklahoma Avenue and west to Walnut Avenue.

Williams didn’t say if money had been found to pay for the project. The bridge plan was shown to several people, including civic leaders who could have included it in the latest bond projects’ list. But it was not funded.

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