West Village: A place to live and work
The West Village apartments on the west side of downtown Oklahoma City have four brand-new live-work units, and all four spaces are filled with local businesses. (Photo by Mark Hancock)
Ericka Ortiz was on a dual mission. She not only needed to find the perfect space to open her nail, lash and makeup studio with her business partner Zitta John, but also needed to find a place for her family to live.
The two worked together at a studio in Oklahoma City but wanted to open their own business, preferably in downtown. When Ortiz heard about four individual unique spaces that were available at the West Village development in the Film Row District, it seems both her prayers were answered.
“We really liked the location because it was full of other creative partners in this area,” said John. “The live and work space was really appealing. Ericka was looking for someplace to live at the time too. It just worked out perfectly and we wanted to be downtown, but somewhere that was convenient to get to.”
On Sept. 1, Manifest opened at 828 W. Main St. The lash, nail and makeup studio is one of four new businesses that are part of a live-work space at the West Village Apartments in which commercial space is on the ground floor, but a set of stairs leads up to a two-bedroom apartment above.
The West Village apartments on the west side of downtown Oklahoma City have four brand-new live-work units, and all four spaces are filled with local businesses.
The live-work concept is on the rise right now in the U.S. and the developers of West Village Apartments took a gamble that the concept would be popular among prospect tenants.
They weren’t wrong.
Logan Filkins wasn’t even considering a retail space or his own store. Instead, he was searching for a downtown apartment, but the added workspace was too irresistible to pass up.
He opened Chapter, a lifestyles and home decor shop, in October.
“The space was the excuse to have Chapter. We weren’t like actively looking for a location for a store,” said Filkins. “A friend of mine who became my partner and I had wanted a retail space, but we both have businesses that operate successfully outside of having one, so it wasn’t a big necessity. When the opportunity came up for a corner space directly across the street from 21c, we really just like tried to come up with a concept to put in it.”
Corey Robinson opened a video and photo production studio at the West Village Apartments because he liked the idea of living and working in the same space. (Photo by Mark Hancock)
Filkins and his wife and two kids moved into the apartment attached above Chapter and they haven’t regretted the decision yet.
Corey Robinson has a similar story. He opened the video and photo production studio Wooley at the West Village Apartments because he liked the idea of living and working in the same space. In February, he moved his family and his business to one of the live-work spaces at West Village.
“My brother designed all the branding for the Jones Assembly and for West Village. We were out eating one night and almost jokingly looked at this place,” Robinson said. “I’d wanted to get a studio downtown for years and when we saw this we thought it was almost too good to be true. And I think just the peace of mind of living 10 feet away from all this expensive equipment helped.”
Lindsay Zodrow, who owns Hand Making Space at West Village, was already familiar with living where she worked. She and her family lived in Collected Thread in the Plaza District for years before she decided to open the creative coworking space downtown.
“We lived in the back of the store when we were in the Plaza for the first two years,” Zodrow said. “My husband and I have always been really drawn to the affordability of living in your workspace. We also have three kids and the only way I can work as if I’m living in my workspace right now. These spaces were all built for that. They were created with that in mind, like the old school where you had the deli downstairs and the family lived upstairs.”
In Manifest, the bright studio buzzes with stylists working their magic, but upstairs Ortiz’s own style decorates her new home. Shades of pink and gray stay hidden upstairs, but she can actually peek over the balcony right into her own business.
“The apartments are absolutely amazing. They’re beautiful, spacious and really modern,” Ortiz said. “It’s very common in other cities, but it’s not something that we’ve seen here in Oklahoma City. I feel like I am more available to my clients and I’m more hands-on in the community as well.”
The four entrepreneurs at West Village are examples of the live-work trend growing in the United States. The trend doesn’t just include those who work from home, but those who live and work in a small geographic area.
Work and live
In a recent Gallup poll, 43% of Americans said they worked remotely, including in spaces like home offices, shared spaces and coworking offices.
The concept of a live-work lifestyle may be new to Oklahoma City, but it was commonplace in larger cities in the U.S. for decades. In New York City, for instance, it was common for a storekeeper to live above his shop or a doctor’s office to be a dedicated space in the foyer of a doctor’s home.
Logan Filkins opened Chapter, a lifestyles and home decor shop, in October at the West Village Apartments. (Photo by Mark Hancock)
According to the Global Coworking Growth Study 2019 by Coworking Resources, “the number of coworking spaces worldwide is projected to soon cross 20,000 and reach 25,968 by 2022, an increase of 42% from 2019.”
In addition, The State of the Remote Job Marketplace report from FlexJobs showed that 3.9 million Americans, or 2.9%, work from home at least half the time.
The trend also ties into the rise of co-living. Co-living includes apartment or condo concepts like West Village that include engaging amenities, shared common areas and the lure of living with others who share similar interests.
Euromonitor’s Market Research Blog also explored the growth of co-living, stating that trend is strongest with millennials and the over-65 crowd.
“The trend stems from hyper-urban hubs that have embraced the sharing economy as a lifestyle choice. In its most basic form, co-living sees people share spaces and mutual facilities to save money and inspire collaborative ideas or provide comfortable, more acceptable living conditions,” the report says.
The West Village development is expected to finish in early 2020, but buildings B and D are 100% occupied. Building C is almost completely full, and Building A, the final building that is still under construction, is expected to follow the same trajectory. Altogether, the West Village development has 345 units.
“The West Village has been a large undertaking and encompasses residential, commercial, and this unique hybrid of both in our live-work units. We thought these four units could be popular, but we honestly didn’t know they’d be this popular. I’m glad we took the chance, though,” said Andy Burnett, developer of the West Village.
“I think people in Oklahoma City are willing to try new things and looking for ways to do life downtown. There’s a big push for spaces where folks can do multiple parts of life close by. People are looking for walkable and bikeable areas with multiple offerings – entertainment, work, housing, etc. This movement directly applies to this notion of live-work spaces.”
For the four residents of West Village’s residential-work spaces, their spaces may be just the beginning in Oklahoma City.
“I love it for convenience and being able to divide the cost. Having the living space is what made Chapter doable,” said Filkins. “The financial aspect of dividing that cost between our living space and the business made it happen for us.”
JOURNAL RECORD: West Village: A place to live and work
Get the local deals and keep money in Oklahoma with Small Business Saturday
"This is all hand-stitched in Oklahoma City. It's all made right here,” Logan Filkins, owner of Chapter, said.
Logan Filkins and his business partner opened Chapter a month ago on Film Row. Not only is it locally owned, but almost everything inside is made by an Oklahoman.
When it comes to Small Business Saturday, Filkins says everything at Chapter will be 15% off.
Shopping small is a big deal nationwide. American Express started Small Business Saturday 10 years ago to give local shops more exposure during the holidays.
The Midtown District goes all out with about 60 eateries and shops offering discounts, including the Holiday Pop-Up Shops on 10th and Hudson.
A 2018 study by Amex says 67 cents of every dollar spent at a local business goes back into the local economy.
"Comparing that to national chains, there's 14 cents for every dollar that stays in Oklahoma,” Rachael Gruntmeir, owner of The Black Scintilla, said.
The Black Scintilla owner Rachael Gruntmeir is bringing other local stores into her clothing boutique Saturday. Savory Spice Shop and Brown's Bakery giving away items at a caffeine bar.
Service-oriented shops are also offering discounts like Manifest Nail and Makeup Studio on Film Row.
"People definitely buy those gifts. It's a great time to just tell the person you love, 'Here's just some great pampering services,'” Ericka Ortiz, co-owner of Manifest, said.
Shopping local to keep money in the state and maybe even meet your next best friend.
"It's a great reminder this one day a year how important it is to shop local and to have that sense of community and pride in your state because, let's be honest, when you bring your friends in from out-of-town, especially for the holidays, you want to show them the cool local thing,” Gruntmeir said.
For a list of businesses in downtown OKC visit https://downtownokc.com/small-business-saturday/
And to see if a business near you is participating, click here.
KFOR: Get the local deals and keep money in Oklahoma with Small Business Saturday
The art of make-believe: Artist Denise Duong paints her colorful characters all over OKC
By BRANDY MCDONNELL, May 25, 2019, NewsOK
Denise Duong maintains a fanciful flock of imaginary friends, and she doesn’t care who knows it. Rather, she plasters her charming cast of adventurers, explorers and observers on posters and parking garages, splashes them on paintings and pins and even takes them down not-so-dark alleyways. “Somebody asked me the other day like ‘what are you doing tonight?’ And I was like … ‘Tonight, I’m gonna have to hang out with my make-believe friends at the studio,’” she said with a laugh. “It’s fun to see other people hang out with them, like people sharing pictures of the Lyric Theatre wall or the Film Row piece.”
Art lovers don’t have to look too far or hard to see Duong’s whimsical figures around Oklahoma City these days. They’re greeting theatergoers heading to a show at Lyric at the Plaza, they’re towering 40 feet high on the west and south sides of the West Village parking garage on Sheridan Avenue, and they’re even loitering in the ladies’ room of The Paseo Plunge multi-use center.As the featured artist of the 2019 Paseo Arts Festival, Duong, who is proprietor of the district’s Little D Gallery, also created a playful design featuring the Paseo’s distinctive buildings and colorful characters for the festival’s T-shirts and posters.A Memorial Day weekend tradition, the 43rd annual Paseo Arts Festival is Saturday through Monday in the Paseo Arts District.“That was a great get for us, so we’re really excited about having her artwork,” said Paseo Arts Association Executive Director Amanda Bleakley. “I think it’s perfect. It represents the district. It shows the buildings and the people and all the things that are going on.”Although she mostly paints on canvas in her home studio, Duong, 38, has spent many hours over the past three years high above her hometown in a cherry picker.
“It’s been really fun,” she said. “I love being high. I love being outside. … I love making art when I’m outside. And I love being on lifts. I mean, there’s some scary moments when it’s really windy, but you just try to shut it out ... and work through it.”The Putnam City High School graduate said she hadn’t painted a mural in years when Kanaly, curator of Plaza Walls, a rotating mural project in the Plaza District, invited her to go big with her work in a prime spot at NW 16 and Indiana.“The imagination from Denise is just really special and unique. It has kind of like a storybook feel. … I think that is why a lot of people are attracted to it, because they can find little hidden items here and there that they may not have seen the first time. The more that you study it, the more that you understand the story that she’s trying to tell,” Kanaly said.
She added another chapter in her distinctive characters’ ongoing tales last year on the outside wall of Lyric Theatre, where her latest Plaza Walls work is still on view.“Her detail to storytelling and delightful characters are the perfect visual match for what Lyric is doing inside the theater as well,” said Lyric Producing Artistic Director Michael Baron in an email.Her latest mural project, titled “Life in the Light,” was recently completed in another OKC hot spot: Film Row. Although they tower above of the burgeoning district, the artist added plenty of fun little details, including a movie camera in a nod to Film Row’s history, the state motto “Labor Omnia Vincit” and a car reminiscent of the models produced in the old Fred Jones Ford Manufacturing Plant, now 21c Museum Hotel.
Through her distinctive cast of “make-believe friends,” Duong makes the human element the main focus. While some figures are tailored for specific works, like her playful Paseo poster portraits of Joy Reed Belt and the late John Belt, who have been instrumental in the district’s renaissance, others are recurring characters who appear in many of her paintings.
“Over time, I’ve just become so comfortable in drawing them that they’ve kind of, for me, taken on a life of their own,” she said.For her second Paseo festival as a gallery owner, she is selling enamel pins depicting two of her regulars — an aviatrix who often flies on the back of a large bird and a newer mermaid-like character.“I try to look at it as a fun space for everybody to kind of congregate. (It’s) kind of like a clubhouse that features my work along with other people’s work. So, it’s been really, really fun to have and just get everybody together, especially during the festival,” she said of her gallery. “I’m extremely exhausted by the end of the day, but during the whole festival experience, it’s just like a big party.”
NEWSOK: The art of make-believe: Artist Denise Duong paints her colorful characters all over OKC
Downtown properties on the rise as population increases in the area
By: Lacey Lett, KFOR
January 7, 2019
OKLAHOMA CITY - If you've been to downtown Oklahoma City recently, you've likely seen the changing housing scene in the area.
Andy Burnett is just one of the people developing apartments, condos and other living quarters near the downtown area.
Burnett, who is developing the West Village Apartments on Film Row, says it was an idea that was brought to him by the family of Fred Jones.
“At the time, Mark and I initially said no. We were busy on a bunch of other projects and we just didn't see their vision for the neighborhood,” Andy Burnett, West Village Developer, said.
However, that soon changed. Now, an entire neighborhood is expected to be finished by the end of the summer.
“The idea with mixed-use development is you'd have everything you need within walking distance and so one of our tenants will have a grocery component where you can buy meats, cheese, bread. Basically anything you need for daily living,” Burnett said.
Currently, there are more than 20 multi-family properties downtown, and at least six more are on the way, according to a list sent to News 4 by Downtown OKC.
They estimate around 8,500 residents live downtown, compared to the 73,000 downtown employees.
Paul Sechrist moved to these brand new condos on N.W. 6th and Hudson last month after spending the last 19 years in Crown Heights.
“My doctor's downtown. I found out every place I was going on weekends seemed to be downtown, and I was at a point in my life where I wanted to downsize. Wanted sort of a lock and leave place to travel,” Sechrist said.
He says he chose 701 Hudson Condos because it was the most urban space and located on one floor.
“I've always had a fascination with living in New York City although my family's here, my jobs were here and so I wanted to stay in Oklahoma City, but I sort of liked the New York style of living,” Sechrist said.
Downtown OKC says more residents are moving downtown but it's unclear just how many.
Developer Brent Swift says it's a risk he's willing to take.
"It's still that kind of pioneer state where people are coming in, putting a product out there and you're still kind of waiting for clients to come along,” Brent Swift said.
West Village will have restaurants, salon, tiny grocery store for staples and other retail on the bottom floors.
Meanwhile, 701 Hudson condos has three units occupied now with eight more available.
KFOR: Downtown properties on the rise as population increases in the area
OKC’s West Village development anchored by local businesses
By: Molly M. Fleming, The Journal Record
December 7, 2018
Chad Grubbs stands outside the West Village apartments under construction at 835 W. Sheridan Ave. in Oklahoma City. Grubbs will open a second Stitch Cafe inside the apartment building. (Photo by Mark Hancock)
OKLAHOMA CITY – Developer Andy Burnett was a regular customer at the Okay Yeah Co. previously at 705 W. Sheridan Ave.
He would often tell owners Chad Grubbs and Jen Semmler Grubbs that if they were looking for a second location, he’d be interested in having them as a tenant.
Burnett’s persistence paid off. The Grubbs are opening a second location of their concept, Stitch Cafe, in the West Village apartments, on W. Sheridan Avenue and W. Main Street. It will also house the couple’s The Plant Shoppe. The first Stitch location is at 229 E. Sheridan Ave. in Bricktown.
Burnett said it was important to him and the other West Village owners, Mark Beffort and the Hall family, to surround the development with locally based concepts.
“We feel like embracing Oklahoma City with the retailers is an important next step,” Burnett said. “If you look at our target clientele, they’re shopping local. They’re getting coffee at Elemental Coffee and eating at Barrios. So not only do we like to support local businesses, our clientele likes to support local businesses.”
Hall Capital CEO Fred Hall is the grandson of Fred Jones, who owned the Fred Jones Manufacturing Co., which now houses the 21c Museum Hotel. Jones also owned the building that is now The Jones Assembly restaurant and music venue.
The West Village surrounds the hotel, 900 W. Main St., and the venue, 901 W. Sheridan Ave.
But filling retail space with locally owned small businesses can be risky. Leases are signed for three- to five-year terms. Fifty percent of small businesses fail after the first five years, according to the U.S. Small Business Association.
That’s a risk the developers are willing to take, Burnett said, because having appealing retailers is a valuable amenity. It makes the property more attractive to potential tenants. As the 345 units get full, that revenue stream is much larger than the total retail square footage.
“We’re willing to accept a higher risk profile because we have all of these units,” he said. “I’d rather bring in tenants at cost that are an amenity and make my overall development much more appealing to my residential tenants.”
But Burnett and the other developers are being selective when choosing businesses to occupy that space. In addition to Stitch Cafe and The Plant Shoppe, the Norman-based Social Club will fill 2,100 square feet of retail space across from 21c, facing Main Street.
The retailer and salon has been operating in Norman for about six years, said owners Erica Smith and Dana Scott.
Burnett said since the operators they’ve chosen so far have existing locations, the risk profile drops because they’re already successful.
“You can walk into an existing store and check out everything they have to offer,” he said.
Smith said she and Scott have had their eyes on Oklahoma City for a long time. She said the area has a lot of energy and excitement around it.
Smith operates the salon and Scott oversees the retail side. They said they hope to open the Oklahoma City location in summer 2019.
Getting a second location can be challenging, but the women hired Chelsea Banks with Motif Creative to make sure they were thinking about all the right things.
The Grubbs have been working with some of the city’s restaurant operators on their West Village locations. Their 3,500-square-foot space will be next to The Jones Assembly. They named The Social Order’s founder Brian Bogert and Waffle Champion’s owner Todd Woodruff as mentors.
The Stitch will be an all-day restaurant with a full cocktail program at night. The restaurant will offer delivery inside the West Village.
The space will also house The Plant Shoppe and a small bodega where residents can get essential items as needed. The item list for the bodega will be based on what’s requested from the tenants, said Chad Grubbs.
“I feel like a lot of people are really excited about the essentials in that area,” Grubbs said. “We want to cater to them and help provide quality goods for what people are looking for.”
Burnett said he and the other West Village developers are being patient in their search for a third retail tenant. The building where they will be housed won’t be open until June. He said he doesn’t have a specific use in mind, like a traditional retailer or another restaurant.
But he and the other developers want the operator to be local.
“Signing a national corporately owned tenant is much less risk, but it doesn’t tout the same message of the culture,” he said. “We’re taking more risk, but the rewards are worth it.”
Journal Record: OKC’s West Village development anchored by local businesses
Taming the West: Mixed-use development nears completion on Oklahoma City's Main Street
By: Steve Lackmeyer, NewsOK
November 25, 2018
The $80 million West Village apartments and retail can be seen surrounding the 21c Museum Hotel and The Jones Assembly in this drone shot looking north across Sheridan Avenue and just east of Classen Boulevard. [Photo by Dave Morris, The Oklahoman]
One of the biggest bets yet on downtown mixed-use development is nearing completion along Film Row where the $80 million West Village apartments and retail are starting to open around the 21c Museum Hotel and the Jones Assembly.
The transformation of the west edge of downtown started with an announcement five years ago that the 1916 former Ford Model T assembly plant was to be converted into a 21c Museum Hotel that opened with a full-service hotel, curated art galleries open all hours, restaurants, and adjoining offices for ADG, an architectural, engineering and planning firm.
Soon after, Fred Hall, whose family owns the former plant and surrounding blocks, approached Andy Burnett and Mark Beffort and asked them to develop what is now West Village, an $80 million mix that includes 345 apartments, 20,000 square feet of restaurants and retail, four garages and four live-work units.
The first building to open is the state's tallest apartment club house with 20,000 square feet spanning four stories. Amenities include a library, two community kitchens, a game room with Ping-Pong, pool tables and free vintage arcade video games, a Barre studio, a room for yoga with instruction expected to be provided every Saturday, a spin class room and a Cross Fit gym.
“One of the things we decided to do early on was to go big,” Burnett said. “We needed to create a special place, a neighborhood that fully functions in and of itself.”
A floor-to-ceiling book shelf is at the center of the first floor of the club house, compared to others that are typically designed around large televisions. Reading nooks, comfortable seating and tables are located along each floor.
The building is topped with a rooftop pool, courtyard and outdoor kitchen where the views include the 21c Museum Hotel, the surrounding development and The Jones Assembly.
“We felt like creating an environment where people could live life together, hang out, enjoy a coffee or a cocktail, work out or sit by the pool,” Burnett said. “That is what the Millennials and Generation Z want — they want life spent together. We really tried to design this project around that premise.”
West Village is set to open in phases, with residents already moving into the first apartments around the club house, and more set to move into the neighboring building at Fred Jones Boulevard and Main Street by January. The next building, to the west of The Jones Assembly, will open by late Spring of 2019, with the final building at Main and Classen Boulevard to open by late summer of 2019.
The upfront cost for trying to top the competition comes with a cost. The developers spent $50,000 on what they believe will be the city's first package concierge room. Burnett noted how the city's larger apartment complexes are struggling with the advent of online shopping and how staff time is diverted to sorting through deliveries and apartment space is sometimes sacrificed for storage.
“When you think about 300 residents, think about that many apartments getting overwhelmed with boxes and the task of sorting that,” Burnett said. “With this, Amazon, UPS, they just punch in the resident code for the locker, and the resident comes down with their phone, swipe, and it will open for them.”
Four live-work units are set to open facing Fred Jones Boulevard, which Burnett describes as the Main Street of the development. Strings of lights will drape the street, which is lined with the 21c Museum Hotel, The Jones Assembly and West Village itself.
Burnett admits it's an unproven experiment for the local market with units consisting of 700-square-foot ground floor store fronts and 1,000-square-foot upstairs apartments consisting of a kitchen and two bedrooms.
“The idea, when we thought of this, was to activate the storefront, bring life to the street, and for an aspiring artist, architect, or somebody who wants gallery space to show off what they're doing and to live above their space. It's huge in Europe. But it's never been done here.”
For a brief time, one of the units was being eyed for an ice cream shop, which would have fit the “vibe” Burnett says he is seeking with the overall retail mix for the area. Leases already signed for the retail at the clubhouse building include “Stitch” by Chad Grubbs, which is a rebranded, relocated relaunch of Okay Yeah that was previously located by the nearby Paramount Building, The Plant Shoppe operated by his wife Jenn Grubbs, and a new market.
“I loved both of those concepts, and I was excited to bring those over here with homemade pop tarts, coffee, plants, all the fun things they do,” Burnett said. “They will have a market where you can buy wine, breads, cheeses, meats and anything else you want. And there will be a valet system where you can order any of that to be delivered to your apartment.”
A second location for the Social Club, a combined gift shop and salon already in Norman, will anchor the building along Main Street across from the 21c.
“Women will love it,” Burnett said. “It will be a great place for women to get a haircut, to get a massage, to do their nails, and they will also have a tremendous retail component as well.”
Only one 5,000-square-foot storefront remains at Classen and Sheridan Avenue, and Burnett said he is sorting through potential tenant proposals.
A dozen years ago all of this investment would have been seen as a risk along what was then known as “skid row.” West Village is opening at a time when the surrounding area has been transformed into restaurants, offices, bars and entertainment venues thanks to the pioneering efforts by developer Chip Fudge.
The Jones Assembly, surrounded by construction since its opening, has still drawn large crowds for its restaurant, its upstairs and outside bar, and concert hall. Burnett credits The Jones Assembly with proving the area is ready to grow even more.
“The Jones Assembly has hit it out of the park with their concept, their menu, their restaurant and the overall experience,” Burnett said. “They are doing incredibly well in spite of us and the tractors running all around them. They've done a wonderful job branding this neighborhood as a cool, fun place to hang out.”
Amenities at West Village include a rooftop pool, kitchen and lounge area atop the four-story clubhouse. [Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman]
NewsOK: Taming the West: Mixed-use development nears completion on Oklahoma City's Main Street