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Former Oklahoma Journal building slated for redevelopment

A developer is planning on transform the former Oklahoma Journal building into a mixed use project with multifamily housing, office and retail space. Photo by Jeff Harrison

Planning commission recommends approval of rezoning for mixed use development near SE 15th and Key

By Jeff Harrison
Midwest City Beacon

A developer wants to bring new life to a historic building in Midwest City.

J Lou Properties LLC is planning to redevelop the former Oklahoma Journal building, 7430 SE 15th St., and surrounding properties into a mixed-use development that will include multifamily housing, retail, and office space.

The Oklahoma Journal building will be the centerpiece of the project. The building will be retrofitted for multifamily housing and commercial space.
A three-story building will be built to the west of the Oklahoma Journal building. Two additional two-story buildings will be constructed near Key Blvd. and Wilson Dr. on what are now surface parking lots.

The office and retail space will be located on the first floor of the development with the residential space above. The project includes space for 1-and-2-bedroom apartments. They will be leased at “market rate” according to the developer.

The developer is seeking to rezone the property as a planned unit development and mixed-use overlay. The property currently zones as R-6 Single Family Residential, O-1 Restricted Office, and C-3 Community Commercial.

Last week, the Midwest City Planning Commission heard the request for rezoning. Billy Harless, community development director, said the project follows both the city’s comprehensive plan as well as the 2011 Revitalization Plan for the Original Mile.

“Redevelopment and mixture of compatible land uses like retail, offices, and residential provides an opportunity for a unique development rarely seen in Midwest City,” said Harless in his written staff report.

Mark Grubbs, who spoke on behalf of the developer Jeff Johnson, gave a brief overview of the project, and said he agreed with the staff report on their request.

“This is a great opportunity for redevelopment and something that Midwest City does not have a lot of with mixed-use development,” said Grubbs said.

A few residents spoke during the meeting. Laura Martin, who lives adjacent to one of the parking lots that is slated for redevelopment, asked how the project will impact her home and property value.

Grubbs said the parking lot that is near her house will remain. A multifamily housing building will be built just north of that.

Planning Commission chairman Russel Smith said he believed the new mixed-use development would improve property values in the area.

Another resident said he supports the project and is happy to see the vacant property brought back to life.

The planning commission recommended the zoning request for approval. The item will move on to the city council for final approval on Aug. 23.

The Oklahoma Journal building opened in 1954. Midwest City founder W.P. “Bill” Atkinson started the Oklahoma Journal in 1963 and published the newspaper until 1979. The building was renovated in 1996 and in 2012 but has been vacant for several years.

A developer is planning on transform the former Oklahoma Journal building into a mixed use project with multifamily housing, office and retail space. Photo by Jeff Harrison

Site plan for the proposed mixed-use development at the former Oklahoma Journal building. Photo provided

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