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Greater Tulsa Reporter


Cathedral District Launches In Tulsa

By EMILY RAMSEY
Managing Editor

GATHERING SUPPORT: Cathedral District Co-Chairs Lauren Brookey, Tulsa Community College vice president of external affairs and TCC Foundation president, and Gordy Guest, president of Cyntergy, stand at the front entrance of First Presbyterian Church, 709 S. Boston Ave., which is one of the churches located in the downtown Tulsa district.


ROSSY GILLE for GTR Newspapers


Downtown Tulsa’s newest district officially launched in September.

Cathedral District Co-Chairs Lauren Brookey, Tulsa Community College vice president of external affairs and TCC Foundation president, and Gordy Guest, president of Cyntergy, hosted a meeting to celebrate the official launch of the district, introduce key leaders and outline the future vision.

The Cathedral District is defined as the blocks between 6th Street as its northern boundary, the Inner Dispersal Loop to the south, Denver Avenue to the west and Detroit Avenue as the eastern boundary.

The Cathedral District is the largest downtown district and the only downtown area that encompasses a stretch of Route 66. It is also home to a number of churches that bring together history and architecture, noted City Councilor Blake Ewing.

Every time the Tulsa Foundation for Architecture (TFA) holds walking tours of the Cathedral District, they sell out, noted TFA Executive Director Amanda DeCort, illustrating the citywide interest in these structures.

In addition, the district’s location on Route 66 offers further development potential.

“There’s a lot of opportunities to create tourist destinations in this district. But it’s also an opportunity to create destinations along Route 66 for the citizens of Tulsa,” said Ewing. “There can be pockets of unique offerings created all along Route 66.”

Guest and Brookey began talking three years ago about the future of the district and have since worked to bring together business owners and other stakeholders in the district.

The subsequent conversations have brought about a renewed interest in the area’s restoration and development, with key leaders working together to develop a unified goal of enhancing walkability and stimulating life and growth in this unique part of downtown Tulsa, said Guest.

Founding members of the district include Boston Avenue United Methodist Church, Cyntergy, First Church of Christ Scientist of Tulsa, First Presbyterian Church of Tulsa, First United Methodist Church, Foolish Things Coffee Co., Public Service Company of Oklahoma, and Tulsa Community College’s Metro Campus.

“This district sees 25,000 people travel in and out of it every day,” Guest said. “That includes students, churchgoers and business employees.”

The district’s leadership and neighborhood association is focused on using the walkability, historic appeal and abundant surface parking lots that are prime for enhancement to generate enthusiasm for economic development in this south section of downtown Tulsa, said Brookey.

Ironically, it is the area’s many surface parking lots that has always been the district’s most negative feature that may become the district’s largest asset, because it offers much potential for future development, said Guest.

Ewing is hopeful that the stakeholders in the district will come together to take advantage of the many development opportunities: “When we allow land with such high value potential to sit empty, it’s like having farm land and not planting anything on it.”

Now that the Cathedral District has officially been launched to the public, Brookey hopes to see the vision move forward in creating a “neighborhood attractive to college students, families and businesses in a way that makes it walkable, distinctive and vibrant,” she said.

“We’ve spent more than a year meeting with major property owners and new owners. We think we have an exciting vision that will draw visitors and developers,” Brookey continued. “This launch is only the beginning of our work for a south downtown with a clear sense of place.”

The next steps for the Cathedral District, noted Guest, include hosting an annual outdoor public event featuring a food festival and shared activities offered by members, creative parking discussions and meetings with developers to identify growth opportunities.

The Cathedral District neighborhood association is a movement of churches, businesses and educators focused on inspiring and guiding growth and development in this area of downtown Tulsa. Further information can be found at tulsacathedraldistrict.com.

Updated 10-09-2017

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