Woodward, Okla. — By Alan Riffel
The changing face of Woodward is happening at an astounding rate. We are seeing all types of construction right now – residential, commercial, industrial, retail, entertainment, and so on, with both public and private undertakings. It’s an amazing pace of progress that we deeply relish. And, according to economic forecasts, this accelerating momentum is expected to continue.
The City is involved at various levels of virtually all of this, with some projects being solely public sector activities. The long-awaited Downtown Streetscape makeover has now been awarded, and will finally be getting underway soon. These changes will drastically transform our Main Street business district by building new accessible sidewalks, installing stylish street lighting, and following up with re-doing the street surfacing. Hopefully, this also encourages our merchants to capitalize on these improvements through investing in storefront upgrades, thereby enticing increased downtown shopping.
Garver Engineering is currently working to design a preliminary proposal for massive improvements to 34th Street. This project will completely replace the two-mile stretch of roadway between Oklahoma Avenue and Hank’s Trail. It is expected to not only alleviate traffic flow problems created by the rapidly developing corridor, but to build a delightful thoroughfare that highlights Woodward’s cultural and technological advancement. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation is partnering with the City on this, with considerable collaboration and review, as well as high design and structural standards. So, expect the end product to be magnificent. Public meetings should begin in late winter to receive input.
At the same corner of 34th and Oklahoma that will serve to introduce this brilliant new avenue, a four-story hotel is now beginning construction. The same intersection already highlights two very modern bank branches and the sparkling Lakeside 6 cinema. With all of these upgrades, we will soon see a massively transformed gateway to Woodward.
Regarding the Lakeside 6 theatre, owner Brian Mitchell informs us that attendance at that new venue has been very promising. In the first month of operation, more than 14,000 tickets were sold! Just by observing the parking lot, with plenty of Kansas and Texas car tags displayed, we realize that folks in this region are eager to travel to Woodward to see first-run movies. City Commissioner Bill Fanning notes that many college students from Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford are now opting to come here to the movies instead of Oklahoma City. Those students state it is because of substantial cost-savings for the same level of entertainment. In terms of economic development, the Lakeside 6 has redefined Woodward’s market area.
Many more and exciting projects are beyond the point of consideration in a lot of areas. Don’t be surprised at what all is built in the next year. I will share what’s in the works with you as it is appropriate to do so. Thank all of you for the roles you play in creating a new normal for this city.
Alan Riffel is Woodward’s city manager.