Modeled after a similar report in Kansas City, Downtown Oklahoma City Inc. (DOKC) launched its first downtown residents survey last fall to gather data about downtown residents and people considering moving downtown to see what was on their minds.
“We started with Kansas City’s questions as a rough draft and then tweaked it,” said DOKC Operations Manager A.J. Kirkpatrick.
The survey covered the greater downtown area bordered by NW 13th Street, the Oklahoma River, N. Western Avenue and N. Lottie Avenue, he said. In that area, there are roughly 7,400 residents, according to numbers from the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber.
Kirkpatrick, a former city planner, said a report like this was needed as more properties are built and more people move or consider moving downtown. The first survey started small; about 130 people responded. Kirkpatrick said he was pleased with that number.
“Hopefully, now that we have the first year under our belt, we can go back and show people the value of responding to it,” he said.
The report showed it was almost evenly split by those who rent and those who own their residences. Almost 40 percent of the respondents were in the 25-34 age group, and 89 percent were white. About 45 percent of respondents reported being married.
For household income, 21 percent reported income in the $75,001- $100,000 range.
The highest number of respondents reported they pay $801-$1,000 per month for their downtown residences.
Discoveries and development
Kirkpatrick’s biggest surprise in the report was that nearly 25 percent said they walk to work.
“That’s pretty remarkable when you consider that 99 percent of people in Oklahoma City drive to work,” he said.
The report also is a tool for downtown residential developers. Marva Ellard led the team that renovated the ailing Sieber Hotel in Midtown, 1305 N. Hudson Ave., into high-end apartments. It opened Oct. 31, 2008.
When Ellard was working on the Sieber, there were only a handful of downtown
residential options. While the market was untested, she said her
challenge of filling 38 units wasn’t as great as someone looking to add
several hundred units.
“It’s interesting to see the profile of the people who live downtown and that there are more and more people who want to
come,” she said. “It’s validation that we’ve done the right thing.”
developers new to downtown residential projects, the report served as a
tool to hear firsthand from residents and provided material they can
use to draw new residents to the area.
Burnett is involved in developing two residential projects; one is new
construction, and the other is the conversion of an existing Bricktown
working with developers Zach Martin and Jeff Johnson to convert the
Mideke building, 100 E. Main St., into retail space and apartments. He
also is working on The Steel Yard, a planned 375-unit apartment complex
in east Bricktown with developer Gary Brooks, who is building the Edge
apartments in Midtown. Burnett said both the Mideke conversion and The
Steel Yard are set to be completed in 2015.
(downtown) reports are helpful in identifying target markets for future
projects.” he said. “You want to know what your customer wants, and
this helps in that regard.”
said he is going to improve efforts to get more people to respond. The
survey was available online and at Urban Neighbors events in September
and October. Nevertheless, Ellard said until it came out, she wasn’t
even aware of the survey. Kirkpatrick admitted Midtown was
underrepresented, something he will change going forward. He said
another challenge is getting managers at larger residential complexes to
participate and push the survey out to residents.
“It’s always hard to get rental managers to see the value the first year,” he said.
the report in hand, however, he can show those managers how data can be
sliced and diced to break it down by specific areas of downtown, as
well as by specific properties.
handled the survey in-house, and Kirkpatrick said there was no cost
associated with collecting data and producing the report.
“That’s the beauty of doing this inhouse; it’s free,” he said.
City produces its downtown residential survey each year, and
Kirkpatrick hopes to follow suit. One incentive that might drive
participation — and something respondents didn’t know when they
completed the survey — was afterward, DOKC did a drawing for Oklahoma
City Thunder tickets.
Based on the results from the first initiative, Kirkpatrick is already planning
Businesses downtown residents would like to see:
Restaurant with broad breakfast selection
Pet boarding and grooming