Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Lighting Up: Entertainment and Nighttime Retail Help Districts Thrive

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Lighting Up: Entertainment and Nighttime Retail Help Districts Thrive

Article excerpt

OKLAHOMA CITY - The Lyric Theatre board of directors wanted a permanent home. What the Plaza District received in return was a key to its future growth, according to a development consultant.

Oregon-based Civilis Consultants Principal Michele Reeves said food and entertainment are important first steps to any district's revitalization because they touch the senses.

"Theater is a destination," she said. "It provides multi-sensory entertainment so people have a different interaction with the space. That's really what a district needs to get on the map. I'd say food and entertainment are the two most-common drivers."

At the Uptown 23rd District, on NW 23rd Street, food first brought people to the run-down area. A Good Egg Dining Group opened Cheever's Cafe in 2000. Co-founder Keith Paul said he and his wife, Heather, never thought they would see the Tower Theater reopening like it will this summer.

"When we first started with Cheever's, the only time we talked about the Tower Theater was when Heritage Hills' residents would tell us about it," he said. "It didn't even hit our radar what impact the Tower Theater will have once it gets open."

Reeves said food is important because everyone has to eat, and people typically aren't afraid to cross cultural boundaries for food. However, Paul said Cheever's started as a neighborhood restaurant because no one north of NW 63rd Street would come to the area.

Lyric opened in 2000 and was the lone venue in a district that wouldn't see another investor until 2006, when developer Jeff Struble started purchasing property, including the building that is now home to The Mule. The formerly desolate area is now seeing a duplex torn down to create more parking, and the district has a 98- percent occupancy rate.

But Lyric Theatre Executive Director Paula Stover remembers it wasn't always a bustling street. She said her board wanted to move there for its permanent home because changing locations didn't make the organization look stable. …

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