A community leader credited with helping Kendall Whittier’s turnaround will try to do the same thing across Tulsa.
Starting Feb. 1, Kendall Whittier Main Street Executive Director Sharrer will be the city’s Destination Districts program director. The program is looking at similar efforts by Oklahoma City to revitalize neglected areas of the city.
"They’ve really seen their neighbor-traditional commercial districts really prosper and thrive. So, I think that this administration really wants to capture some of that growth and try to recreate a little bit of that magic across the city," Sharrer said.
Since Sharrer started at Kendall Whittier Main Street in 2013, the area has seen 41 new businesses open, 270 new jobs and $35 million in private funds invested. Whittier Square's occupancy rate increased from 35 to 97 percent.
The Destination Districts program could offer support from city hall ranging from outreach to help with capital improvements, depending on the community organization’s background.
"Hopefully, in just a few short years, we will look and see that we have four, five, six, seven districts that are really growing and thriving with their own unique identity, brand, really offering something that people in Tulsa find unique that they want to drive across town or just across the street to go visit," Sharrer said.
Sharrer said helping communities with revitalization efforts is also a potential draw for visitors from outside the city.
"If you think of great cities all around the country, their downtowns are great, but there are other little pockets all around the city that, you know, you sort of consider, 'Well, hey, that’s the inside place. That’s where the locals go. I want to go there, too.' Well, we’d like to make that happen many, many places in Tulsa," Sharrer said.
The city has already done some ground work to identify potential destination districts, with the Gathering Place, Eugene Field, and 21st and Garnett seen as having potential.