40-acre park is central to OKC renovation

Photo by Hargreaves & Associates
Photo by Hargreaves & Associates

Clay Milford, Staff Writer

   In 2008, Oklahoma City’s MAPS office began collaborating with San Franciscan park planners Hargreaves & Associates in an attempt to bring a central park spanning 40 acres to the heart of downtown. This space will be the nucleus of a project referred to as The Core to Shore Plan; it, along with a planned 30-acre promenade park and the recently renovated Myriad Botanical Gardens, will be the centerpiece of a new Oklahoma City for the future.

   Eric Wenger, the Program Manager for MAPS for the OKC Central Park plans, says the plans for the area are already going strong. “The design of the new Central Park is underway, and we are expected to complete construction drawings in the next few months.  Construction will be scheduled in phases, with different timeframes for the upper and lower park areas.   The early phases will be completed in 2015/2016, the middle phases in 2017/2018 and the final phases in 2020/2021.   The goal is to open portions of the Central Park as surrounding projects are completed like the new Oklahoma City Boulevard and new Convention Center.”

   The Core to Shore effort will prove to be a great step in order for Oklahoma City to solidify itself as a major American Metropolitan area. Wenger says that the Central Park is a part of a plan which aims to not only bring great attractions to the city but a bright future, which includes increased profit as well. “With the plans underway and construction pending on the Central Park, much opportunity will be provided to the areas adjacent to the park for future development. With these planned improvements, an area that is currently considered a blighted area will be revitalized. The Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce projected that the City’s first MAPS initiative which introduced $350 million into the Bricktown and downtown areas generated over $1 billion in private investments.”

   Although the words “central park” are within the working title of the new project, Wenger states that Central Park in New York City will share little to no parallels with Oklahoma City’s upcoming botanical esplanade. “The new Central Park is being designed by Hargreaves and Associates, in conjunction with several local consultants to be unique to Oklahoma City. Ideas from other parks across the world are being considered, but the final results will be a design that is original to the City.”

   Wenger also mentioned the double dip effect both the central park and the overall goals and projects of Core to Shore will have on OKC. “As it relates to the MAPS 3 projects, the plans are for both pedestrians and businesses.  With a mix of goals like Trails, Sidewalks and Central Park, which could be considered for the pedestrian, the others like the Streetcar, Convention Center and Wellness Centers could be considered more for businesses. All are geared to serve the citizens and visitors of Oklahoma City.”

   In other words, everyone, including tourists and business owners, will get to enjoy the fruit of MAPS’ labor when it comes to the capital of the Sooner State. From improved bridges and parks, to fairground renovations and a brand new convention center, the next decade will be one of expansion and profit for the great metropolis of Oklahoma City.