Updated: Nov 20, 2019
With a young energetic city council and a debt free system of infrastructure growth and maintenance, from building an impressive 130 million dollar central park, construction one of the larges new convention centers in north America to paving an elaborate system of walk/biking paths, artificial white water rafting and equestrian sports and all new art and cultural centers it appears that Oklahoma City is poised to be a booming success in the next decade. Is this a no brainer and a “buy now” or is there more to consider with this “recession proof” town in the beating heart of the heartland.
DEREK THOMPSON of the atlantic summarizes our bout with recession clearly in his 2010 article on Oklahoma City , “Avoiding the swelling and crashing of the housing tsunami has been a primary cause of Oklahoma City's success. How did they miss the wave? Natalie Shirley (Department of Commerce Secretary 2010) said the answer goes back to 1982, and Penn Square Bank. Penn Square was a small, risky commercial bank that exploded in the late 1970s and imploded in the 1982 just as falling energy consumption hurt oil prices and slammed the Oklahoma economy. The Savings and Loans Crisis followed, but it was Penn Square took down the energy industry and the banking industry."Over 100 banks closed," she said. "The state ground to a halt. And the bankers today remember the crisis. They've developed very safe, very conservative banking practices since that catastrophic event in the early 1980s."Built on the dependable pillars of local government spending, military (Tinker Air Force Base is the top employer), health care and education, the city is poised for strong and steady growth in the next few years. I asked the Shirley and the mayor what they thought might be the next engine of the Oklahoma economy."We don't really care," she responded. "What we're looking at is a balanced economy. We learned from the 1980s that having a one-trick pony just wasn't going to do it. We're looking at creating a more firm foundation." That firm foundation has resulted in creating a City with amenities that attract people of all types in hopes that with the increase in people will come the increase in jobs and revenue. A large focus of Government spending has been on infrastructure to support an active lifestyle. For example Oklahoma Cities bike and trail system that is up for vote December 2019 to receive a major expansion all in part of making our city a more active lifestyle city.
Does an Active City lead to a better economy?
Facts on bike trails are all over the board when it comes to past cities impact on property values by adding amenities such as trails and bike paths. According to a 2010 study of 12 cities that had added bike trails “Many of the studies involved surveys and opinion polls of residents and this is less preferred than a study that looks at and compares actual housing sale values. As buyers and their preferences are realized in housing prices this survey data is of value though. From a policy standpoint when faced with concern over new bike path projects the answer would seem to be that bike paths have no effect on housing values or a very small to insignificant effect, usually positive, and there are other determining factors such as the design and maintenance plan.” Perhaps the most relevant comment is from the National Parks Service in reference to parks and greenways: “Increases in nearby property values depend upon the ability of developers, planners and greenway proponents to successfully integrate neighborhood development and open space. Designing greenways to minimize potential homeowner park user conflicts can help avoid a decrease in property values of immediately adjacent properties.” Design and maintenance is key in keeping the system from impacting property values negatively.
Among the top gains in value in the study were in Colorado where one could argue had an already large population of nature seeking recreation minded residents who places big value on access to such amenities. There is one growing economic figure in Oklahoma City that has already brought economic boom and thats treating the diseases brought on by obesity and other lifestyle related diseases.
Does Oklahoma City Care about recreation and exercise?
We according to a 2019 list of the fattest cities in America Oklahoma take two of the top 12 with Tulsa coming in 6th and Oklahoma City at number 12. Colorado doesn't even appear on the list until number 91 demonstrating the key emphasis on a states mindedness towards an active lifestyle. One could say from these fact alone that active lifestyle amenities that the Oklahoma City government is pushing to build in the tunes of hundreds of millions of dollars are not aimed at the current population.
So why the push for more physical activities in Oklahoma City? It all has to do with increasing tax revenue. A study on income and behavior from 2003-2006 concluded that high-income individuals are more likely to exercise strenuously and frequently, compared to the average population. Bingo if you build it they will come and by building an attractive location for outdoor activities and physical fitness will attract the people and according to the last mayor Mick Cornet "The 20th century perspective was that people went where the jobs were,...Today the jobs are going to go where the people are. Highly talented young people are coming to us because of the low cost of living. People want to work here."
Does population bring the jobs?
In short is does appear that the more people that move to a place the more Jobs there are. Interesting.. sounds like the mayor was right. But if we look at the median income its rather flat. So perhaps all this active lifestyle is in hopes to increase the median household income as the prior studies suggested. After all you can only fit so many people into one city so if you are going to increase revenue you have to make each person count."We learned a generation ago that the secret to economic development was about the quality of life in your community," Past Mayor Cornett says. "So all of these [infrastructural changes] are just creating a better quality of life, which we think leads to jobs." And current Mayor Holt “The reality is that in an average year, MAPS (an Infrastructure improvement program) is less than 10 percent of our total budget,” Holt said. “It’s just the cherry on top, but it has made all the difference in how we see ourselves and how others see us. It has transformed us and led to consistent economic growth we have all enjoyed.”
Written by Landon Whitt, Host of the OKC Real Estate Show