O’Connor: Districts are a great investmentPublished: Wednesday, February 20, 2019 By: Cathy O'Connor Source: The Journal Record
Thriving, unique commercial districts add immense value, celebrate our cultural diversity and support Oklahoma City’s economic development efforts.
As with small commercial districts in many cities, our commercial districts are walkable, comfortable and interesting. The shops and restaurants are often operated by local artists and entrepreneurs, which brings authenticity to the offerings in the districts. Being able to walk from home to great shops and restaurants is desirable. Property values of homes near Oklahoma City’s commercial districts consistently increase at a higher-than-average rate.
Many of the commercial districts are also business improvement districts. Business improvement districts are a public-private partnership in which property owners pay a special assessment for the maintenance, development and promotion of their commercial district. All of the BIDs in Oklahoma City are managed by a business-merchants association that typically includes an executive director who reports to a board of directors and manages the district services and relations.
BIDs deliver supplemental services within a defined district, such as maintenance and sanitation, public safety, marketing and promotion, capital improvements and landscaping and beautification.
To encourage and support development within the commercial districts, the city of Oklahoma City has a Commercial District Revitalization Program that includes a revolving loan fund. The loan funds can be used by business owners for a variety of eligible expenses, including operating capital, equipment lease or purchase and real estate acquisition. The city Planning Department can also assist in the creation of new commercial districts.
Besides the everyday appeal of the districts, each offers regularly scheduled events and festivals that present entertaining and interesting ways to explore and support these important districts. For example, the Calle Dos Cinco area of Historic Capitol Hill on SW 25th Street will host the Oklahoma Cine Latino Film Festival on March 8 and 9. This annual event promotes the Latino cultural influence on cinema and has become a showcase for local and international filmmakers with submittals from Mexico, Spain and South America.
Year-round, the commercial districts offer unique shopping and dining experiences, historical and architecturally unique designs as well as interesting and family-friendly events. Finding authentic cultural experiences across the city is attractive to residents and visitors alike.