As development continues to thrive in Tulsa’s core, the once-languishing Brady District has become a hot commodity, poised to house projects ranging from hotels to art galleries to green spaces. Here is the story of how this historic Tulsa neighborhood gained new life.
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Brady ready to be fully realized
Sharp’s preservation strategy now seems to be paying off big time, as the Brady District is being remade at a rapid pace.
According to the Tulsa Metro Chamber, 23 announced projects were under way in downtown near the end of 2011, 12 of those in the Brady District. Those dozen projects represent a more than $135 million infusion into the area.
Delise Tomlinson, executive director of downtown development at the Tulsa Metro Chamber, says the development of the Brady District will make the area an even more important feature of the downtown landscape.
“Thanks to all the development, the Brady will be the first (downtown) district to be most fully realized,” she says. “It will serve as the arts area, with museums and entertainment venues, but it won’t be the sole one. It’s a distinct area physically and has a flavor, vitality and history and people that set it apart.”
All of this development, however, wouldn’t have happened without people willing to dream big and take some risks.
“As a member of this community, I’m grateful for people putting energy, resources and thoughts into the area and now seeing it come to fruition,” Tomlinson says. “Because of their vision and dreams, we’re getting the benefit.”
One of those people is Tom Wallace, one of the owners of Wallace Engineering, who purchased a building in the Brady District about eight years ago and turned it into his company headquarters, now housing 100 workers in Tulsa.
Wallace admits to being hopeful that the Brady District would turn around, but he had no expectation of dramatic changes.
“I couldn’t possibly have imagined all this would happen so quickly,” he says. “I thought, well, maybe in 15 to 20 years things would be happening. What is happening is dream-come-true kind of stuff. It’s astounding.”
Wallace, who also owns another building in the Brady District and has an apartment there, says more people are rediscovering the value of the urban core.
“People are moving back to the urban areas,” he says. “They appreciate the history of the buildings and like to see them reused. They like the beauty of the urban environment, where you can park your car and walk everywhere.”