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Inaugural 'State of Downtown Tulsa' underlines housing needs

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Posted at 10:02 PM, May 02, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-02 23:27:16-04

TULSA, Okla. — The nonprofit Downtown Tulsa Partnership debuted its State of Downtown Tulsa event Tuesday at the Santa Fe building Tuesday, publishing numerous statistics and studies done on recent developments and demographics.

"We hope that this data, these tools that we're talking about - become useful to those making investment decisions in the city's core," DTP President Brian Kurtz said.

Kurtz added the group looks forward to completing its goal of making the city center a regional center.

"We were very intentional about using this first report to create a base-level or a baseline, so we can compare ourselves to ourselves in future years, but also to other metropolitan areas," he said.

The partnership reports $1.56 billion in public and private investments in downtown since 2010.

97% of retailers and restaurants in downtown were based in Tulsa as of 2022.

Housing investments have brought a 25% influx in downtown residents, almost 3 out of 5 being millennials.

However, a big problem remains that Mayor G.T. Bynum emphasized in his remarks to the more than 150 members and business owners in attendance.

"That is homelessness, and specifically the lack of housing that we have available as a city," Mayor Bynum said.

"We're looking at building 4,000 units of housing in downtown over the next decade. That's about a third of the total need...It requires vision and leadership."

For Elliot Nelson of McNellie's Restaurant Group, solving the housing crisis locally will take help from local business owners too.

"If we don't build more housing it's harder for our population to grow," Nelson said. "And if the population doesn't grow, that presents macroeconomic challenges. Then it's harder for businesses to find employees. It's harder for restaurants to have more customers. It compounds and snowballs. So getting more housing built is something that absolutely must be pursued."

Kurtz said the partnership plans to unveil a new initiative focused on downtown housing in the next few weeks that will assist the city's blueprints outlined in Improve Our Tulsa.

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