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2015 Issue 11 : A Special Main Street Edition

Develop, Innovate, Prosper

Kendall Whittier: Rejuvenated, Revitalized, Ready for More Everyone has passed through that part of town – the part where all you do is pass through. It’s on the way to a number of places, but it’s not the destination. In many communities across Oklahoma and the U.S., the Main Street Program has helped communities take that part of town and transform it into the part of town. The Kendall Whittier district in Tulsa is just one example where hard work and community involvement has brought incredible change and opportunity. “Even before the revitalization started, Kendall Whittier had a foundation for what was to come – a great collection of historic buildings with excellent proximity to downtown Tulsa,” said Ed Sharrer, Executive Director of Kendall Whittier Main Street (KWMS). “Ziegler Art & Frame was founded in Whittier Square in the early 1970s. Despite sharp decline in the surrounding business district, the Ziegler family stayed put and purchased numerous properties when they became available. The historic 1928 Circle Theater was purchased in 2003 by a new nonprofit founded by Clark Wiens and opened in 2004. As interest in the core of the city grew, so did interest in the neighborhoods surrounding downtown. Kendall Whittier was rediscovered.” Once the ball got rolling, the businesses started opening and people started coming.

“We felt it important to get the Circle back in operation and to help preserve a bit of Tulsa film history,” said Stephanie LaFevers, Executive Director, Circle Cinema Foundation, Inc. “The theatre had sat empty for at least a decade at that point and was in very sad shape. Luckily, it hadn’t met the wrecking ball fate of most of the other historic movie houses in Tulsa.” LaFevers credits KWMS with promoting the area to attract businesses and visitors. “The Main Street Program has helped to bring attention and attract more businesses, more public events, and more visitors to the district. All that has helped bring in more people to our facility,” she said. “Ed is passionate and

works hard to promote it to the general public as well as to foster cohesiveness and collaboration among its businesses and stakeholders.” Like other Main Street programs, KWMS uses various events to help drive traffic to and bring new traffic to the area. “Each event is unique, but all KWMS events are designed to create value for Kendall Whittier merchants and make a positive impression on guests,” said Sharrer. “The K-Dub Food Truck Festival brings approximately 2,000 people from all over the Tulsa metro area to Whittier Square for one afternoon. Based on surveys, 40% of those attendees visit a Kendall Whittier merchant before or after the festival.” Continued on page 3

Q&A with Linda Barnett, Transforming Oklahoma, One Community at a Time, p. 3 Main Street Four Point Approach Success Stories, p. 4 Melyn Johnson, Directing the Winds of Change in Guymon, p. 6

THE STATE OF MAIN STREETS Making an Impact on Oklahoma’s Economy

Oklahoma’s Main Street program has been pumping new life back into the heart of communities across the state for more than 30 years. Combining historic preservation and downtown revitalization efforts with powerful economic stimulation, Main Street restores the core assets of our communities and enhances the quality of life for citizens.

$1.2 Billion in Private Investment (Around 38 million in 2015) TX

$350 Million in Public Investment (To date in 2015, $8 million has been invested)

17,435 New Jobs 5,080 Business Openings, Relocations and Expansions 1.3 million Volunteer Hours (Since 2002)

4,452 Facade Rehabilitations 8,475 Other Building Projects & New Construction *Source: Main Street Cumulative Reinvestment report through August 2015


Total investment in Main Street programs including private sector and public improvment projects

Contact the Main Street Program for more information at 405-650-0739 or email

Transforming Oklahoma, One Community at a Time Q&A with Linda Barnett, Main Street Director What kinds of services are available to Main Street communities through the Oklahoma Main Street Program? The Oklahoma Main Street Center provides architectural design, interior design, marketing, promotion, organizational and business development services to communities across Oklahoma. These services are provided to the communities themselves, organizations within those communities but most of all to individual businesses…especially the locally-owned small businesses, the backbone of our communities and a large part of the retail sales tax revenue our cities depend upon.

I have seen a lot of impressive transformations in my 25 years of Main Street. As a manager, I saw Woodward go from 31 vacancies downtown to less than five in only two years.  What are some of the trends currently happening in Main Street communities? There are exciting new trends downtown, more exciting than I have ever seen. There is a strong movement toward new business openings from young entrepreneurs. A strong focus on dining and entertainment businesses, all centered downtown instead of in a strip mall. And, the movement toward downtown living is huge.

You spend a lot of time traveling the state. What differences do you see between Main Street communities and non-Main Street communities?

What would you say to a community considering joining the Main Street program?

The difference, in my opinion is willingness to step up and do something to make sure your community stays on the successful side. Oklahoma Main Street communities have that willingness.

The Main Street program won’t cure all of a community’s problems but we can show you a methodology for addressing those problems, one that works in over 2,000 communities across the country.

Tell us about a memorable transformation you’ve seen in a Main Street community.

What is the most important thing for a Main Street community?

Main Street is a public/private partnership. It takes buy-in from local government, from local businesses and from the community. The buy-in isn’t always equal and it changes as the program matures but of the three, no one is less or more important. What are some recommendations for communities to help them get started and see some more immediate impact? Main Street is incremental… baby steps. All worthwhile and lasting change is incremental. I tell communities joining the network to take lots of before pictures because in a year, no one will remember what it looked like before. However, if you can get one successful design project, event, or other activity under your belt, you will see things begin to happen in a lot of other areas. 

Kendall Whittier: Rejuvenated, Revitalized, Ready for More Continued from page 1

Inexpensive, but well-crafted, marketing efforts such as social media help KWMS get the message out to the masses. “Social media comprises the vast majority of our marketing efforts. We highlight area merchants, upcoming events, and sometimes just a pretty picture of the district,” he said. “With each reach and click, we brand our district and craft a message with reach far outside of Tulsa. We are constantly surprised at how many people outside of Tulsa are at least nominally aware of Kendall Whittier. Social media works!” KWMS Main Street tenants know that being located in an up and coming area can bring challenges, but also opportunity.

“It’s a challenge trying to be patient for new growth to happen and for empty storefronts to become occupied. For many years, we were the only business open on our block,” said LaFevers. “But by being here we get to be a part of vibrant, growing area of Tulsa that has a rich history and now has official designation as a cultural district. Stay up to date on the progress and events happening in KWMS by following their social media accounts –


Main Street Four Point Approach Success Stories Development strategies that revitalize communities

Learning the heritage of our community and developing pride in that heritage has been an important facet of Main Street. ~ Karen Dye, Newkirk Main Street Director

The National Trust for Historic Preservation established the National Main Street Center in 1980 to assist nationwide downtown revitalization efforts. The Oklahoma Main Street Center, based in the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, operates on the Trust’s Four Point Approach™, advocating for the restoration of the historic character of downtowns while pursuing traditional development strategies such as marketing, business recruitment and retention, real estate development, market analysis and public improvements. The Main Street Program has chosen an example for each category that exemplifies the importance and helpfulness of the four-point approach. Organization The first step is getting everyone to work toward the same goal. To have a successful Main Street revitalization program, your community needs to bring together the human and financial resources to reach your goals. A governing board and standing committees make up the fundamental organizational structure, while a paid program director coordinates and supports community volunteers. By using this structure, communities can build the consensus and cooperation needed to bring vibrancy to a commercial district. Newkirk is a small community that, with the help of their Main Street Director, has come up with some unique and fun ways to raise funds and bring people in their community together. Like many Main Street Communities, they don’t have a large population to draw from so they have to think outside the box to get the job done.

With limited funding coming from the City of Newkirk ($10,000), Newkirk Main Street turned to their community to grow their program from its original $20,000/year budget. Private citizens can join Newkirk Main Street for as little as $5 a month. Today, their budget is closer to $50,000, with only $10,000 being provided by the City. They also had a building donated and are restoring it with the purpose of selling it. Another large part of Newkirk Main Street success is their volunteer support. They have two youth volunteer programs – Junior volunteers meet once a week and High School students dedicate 25 hours per year to Newkirk Main Street. High School students are given “Jed” cords to wear at graduation and receive a small scholarship in recognition of their help. The program is named after a charter member of the Newkirk Junior Main Street program – Jed Hartley who died serving his country in Iraq. Through Keep Oklahoma Beautiful’s Fresh Paint program, Newkirk Main Street volunteers have painted 14 facades of historic buildings in the downtown. They also worked closely with the Friends of the Library to build a new state of the art library in the Main Street historic district. In 2010 Newkirk won the prestigious “Great American Main Street” award and then became a Preserve America community. To date, Newkirk has seen a total reinvestment of $13,169,669 with more than 97,000 volunteer hours. Promotion Marketing is a vital component of a successful Main Street program, framing a positive image and encouraging

Newkirk Main Street historic photo blended with current day Main Street photo.

Stockyard City Main Street’s Sarsaparilla’s, a vintage soda pop and retro candy store styled with the look of the old west.

consumers and investors to live, work, shop, play and invest in the district. Through local volunteers, you can market your district’s unique characteristics to residents, investors, business owners and visitors. Efforts such as advertising, retail promotional activity, special events and marketing campaigns improve consumer and investor confidence and encourage commercial activity and investment in the district.

Steakhouse, you can mosey up to a classic western style bar and share a soda pop or candy bar with a few strangers or friends. It is a refreshing take on the Old West.

Reach Clothing in Collinsville is a great example of how a company can promote itself and its community while giving back at the same time. Reachclothing has a “buy a shirt, give a shirt” policy, where for every shirt purchased a shirt is donated to a child in need. Tyson Baker started the company after hearing about children located in Collinsville being bullied for wearing the same shirt to school every day. REACH has donated more than 2,000 shirts to children in need. Thanks to their customers. Design The appearance of your Main Street district sets a vital first impression for your community. Capitalizing on its best assets – such as historic buildings and pedestrianoriented streets – is just part of the story. By adding an inviting atmosphere through attractive window displays, parking areas, building improvements, signs, sidewalks, landscaping and more, your community will a portray positive visual message about what your district has to offer. One of the newest additions to Stockyard City Main Street is Sarsaparilla’s, a vintage soda pop and retro candy store styled with a look of the Old West. Located in the Historic National Saddlery Building, just next to Cattlemen’s

Economic Restructuring The Main Street program helps existing business owners be more competitive while recruiting new businesses and economic uses to the area, creating a commercial district that responds to today’s consumer needs. By diversifying your district’s economic base and converting unused or underused commercial space into economically productive space, your community can strengthen the economic assets and boost the profitability of the area. An important and vibrant addition to Main Street Ada is the Vintage 22 Wine Bar and Bistro, an eclectic night spot. This nearly century old building was completely renovated by owners Dakota and Lisa Hector. Vintage 22 serves as a meeting spot for all ages of people in the Ada community. Vintage 22 has a witty and informative social media presence, but when asked about the great success, the owners give credit to their faithful staff who are always on the lookout for new event ideas such as Cocktails and Canvas where patrons are guided by local artists in creating their own paintings; open mic nights; and Tuesday Night Trivia. The owners believe in treating employees like family, resulting in a low turnover in staff. The staff also knows what it takes to make a new customer happy – make them feel at home and people can expect that every time they walk in the doors. For more information visit:

Melyn Johnson, Directing the Winds of Change in Guymon The wind blows in Western Oklahoma. Like, a lot. With the wind comes the change of seasons; cold fronts and heat waves, rain and drought. Recently, however, something else has been changing in the panhandle. Especially in Guymon, which from the outside, would seem to be like most other Oklahoma towns. However, upon closer inspection, a different version exists. A diverse version not often seen in a small town, from the everyday faces in the crowd to the local Main Street program. At the heart of this difference is one engaged, active Main Street Director – Melyn Johnson. Johnson has taken the basics of a Main Street program and turned it truly into the center and the heartbeat of her community. From support groups, to events and trainings, Main Street Guymon tries to be something for everyone, and is succeeding. “You can spend all your time just doing things, or you can spend your time doing things that people need and want,” said Johnson. “When there was an obvious need for a Dementia Support Group, after finding the perfect person to lead it, we just did it. If our people need it, we try to provide it here at the Main Street office. Once they come here and get to know the program, pretty soon they’re part of the Cash Mob and the Lunch Mob and doing other things that suit their fancy. And, yes, when I need help, they’re always there because when you’ve ‘helped’ someone, they have a stronger passion for your program.” According to Johnson, that works out pretty well when recruiting volunteers for Guymon’s local program. “The secret to getting volunteers is to ask them to do what they love to do and then show them how much they’re appreciated,” she said. “The Shutterbugs, for example, obviously love taking photos, so it’s a simple deal to ask them to take photos that we use on brochures, on Facebook, in the newspaper and so forth. Those who want to do it, do, and those who don’t, don’t. It’s easy. When they see their work is appreciated, it makes everyone happy.” Guymon is one of the state’s most diverse communities. An anthropologist from Tufts University in Boston who came to study Guymon was surprised to find more than 30 languages/ dialects spoken in the school in the small town of about 15,000. Guymon is home to 600 African refugees, including several

Sudanese youth, from the refugee group known as the “Lost Boys of Sudan” who were displaced or orphaned as a result of the Second Sudanese Civil War, who volunteer on Main Street committees. Guymon also has residents from more than six different Asian countries. Main Street Guymon has embraced this diversity and offer unique events that showcase their community uniqueness and expose attendees to things they would otherwise have to Azuma: An African Celebration held annually by Guymon Main Street. travel the world to see. “With diversity, especially when it comes quickly, there is division and you can bridge the dissention and division best with the arts … with a party, so to speak,” she said. “Especially if the party includes things that teach about the people; who they are, where they are. With understanding and knowledge, fear retreats and communities gradually grow stronger. There really is something unique and special about every place. What do you have that is the biggest or the best or the first? Start with that and then build.” Johnson did offer a piece of advice to others looking to promote their communities and historic districts. “The biggest mistake, I believe, in developing tourism, especially for the smaller towns, is trying to push what you want people to see rather than offering what they want to see and making it spectacular for them while they’re there,” she said. “We love our communities, our little museums, our little festivals and we look at them with rose colored glasses. We have to look at them with a deeper honesty. People think if your geography is boring, and your land is not as colorful as others, that the people won’t be either. But I beg to differ. We may not have the beautiful color and blooms and such, but we make up for it with colorful people who are a blast to be around. We are interesting to talk to, and interesting to party with, and that’s a pretty good reason to want to know Guymon better.”

Streetscapes, Playgrounds and Investment in Woodward Making Main Streets more walkable and accessible for all Woodward’s historic downtown amenities are like a mosaic of improvements that have occurred over time. Since the advent of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990 and current focus on improving walkability downtown, getting around in Main Street districts is becoming easier for populations young and old. In recent years, the town of Woodward has been leading the way in these efforts. New streetscape: Woodward’s beautiful new streetscape is a testament to endurance that is paying dividends. In 2005 the community applied for an ODOT grant to fund the two-phase project. Even after receiving the grant, several years of careful planning followed. “The long planning period was difficult for many to endure, and some merchants were not willing to sign over legal easements to the city for the required work along their property,” said Janet Fitz, Director of Woodward Main Street (WMS). Then, after years of waiting for something to happen, construction began. Fitz made it her business to talk to merchants regularly, and was instrumental in bridging the gap between the city and property owners on issues, such as the easements. Woodward Main Street also held weekly meetings with the construction foreman, city officials, street supervisor, engineers, and architects to review progress and see if any action or changes were needed for the week ahead. This approach led to a successful completion of the project. Now completed, walkability has vastly improved. Today the public enjoys the accessible business entrances, new sidewalks and safer crosswalks.

Future Playground: Fitz is also a dreamer and recently began efforts to take accessibility to a whole new level in Woodward’s Main Street District. She has been leading the efforts to establish an ADA playground for area children with disabilities.

Also, they have given Fitz permission to work with a playground equipment company on the design. It will be up to Woodward Main Street to fund the purchase of the needed equipment.

“The idea came from an experience watching a child sit in a wheelchair while their siblings played,” said Fitz. “It got me thinking about and doing research for the right equipment. After I had gathered some information, I presented it to the Main Street Board. They gave me the go ahead to present to the city.”

The future park will be conveniently located within one block of Main Street in beautiful Centennial Park. In one afternoon, parents can come and park their vehicle, spend an afternoon at the park, dine within 400 feet of the park, and take care of some shopping downtown. Everything is in walking distance and the park is going to be a wonderful addition to downtown Woodward.  

According to Fitz, in Woodward alone there are 387 disabled children in the school system and more than 110 children in the 60-mile radius outside of town. The nearest ADA Playground (similar to what Woodward Main Street is building) is more than 100 miles from Woodward.

To date, $50,000 of the $150,000 has been raised by Woodward Main Street’s incredible volunteers. If you are interested in supporting their efforts and contributing to the ADA playground, you can send a tax deductible contribution to Woodward Main Street, c/o Janet Fitz, 1102 Main Street, Woodward, OK 73801.

The city has been an instrumental partner in the efforts to establish the future playground. They are providing the land and have committed to provide all necessary groundwork and installation of the specialized playground equipment.

If you have any questions, please contact Janet Fitz at (580) 334-3401.



900 N. Stiles Ave. Oklahoma City, OK 73104-324

Upcoming Events NATIONAL PRESERVATION CONFERENCE Monday-Friday, November 2-6 Washington D.C.

NEW PIONEER A PRODUCT OF THE OKLAHOMA DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE EDITOR: Kimberly Hickerson, Project Manager CONTRIBUTORS: Stefanie Appleton, Larry Lucas, Janet Fitz, Kelli Yadon

For more information please visit:

PHOTO CREDITS: Oklahoma Department of Commerce Oklahoma Department of Tourism

MAIN STREET PROGRAM MANAGER AND VOLUNTEER TRAINING Tuesday-Thursday, November 3-5 Ponca City For more information please contact Main Stree Office 405-650-0739


VETERAN’S DAY Wednesday, November 11 State Offices Closed THANKSGIVING DAY Thursday, Friday, November 26, 27 State Offices Closed

Kimberly Hickerson Editor-in-Chief - New Pioneer Oklahoma Department of Commerce 900 N. Stiles Ave., Oklahoma City, OK 73104 (405) 815-5240 @OKcommerce

Issue 11  

A Special Main Street Edition! Q&A with Linda Barnett, Transforming Oklahoma, One Kendall Whittier: Rejuvenated, Revitalized, Ready for More...

Issue 11  

A Special Main Street Edition! Q&A with Linda Barnett, Transforming Oklahoma, One Kendall Whittier: Rejuvenated, Revitalized, Ready for More...