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)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]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