State of the Plaza District is strong and getting stronger

State of the Plaza District is strong and getting stronger
Mark Hancock
The Parish event space was filled during the third annual State of the Plaza on Feb. 25, 2015.

Food truck lines during Live on the Plaza and clumps of bikes parked at racks along 16th Street are examples of the Plaza District’s vitality. But so, too, are the dozens of business statistics that further show the district’s status as one of the city’s most popular urban commercial hubs.

Slices of pizza sold by Empire last year: 389,370. Pies purchased at Pie Junkie: 19,538. Employees in the district: 365. New businesses to open last year: 10.

“It’s just crazy to me to think about these [numbers],” said Plaza District Association Executive Director Kristen Vails during Wednesday's State of the Plaza event.

Held at The Parish event space in the Plaza District, the third annual State of the Plaza celebrated the accomplishments of the district over the past year and anticipated continued growth that has become an example for other urban renewal projects across the city.

“I’m not sure we have a better example,” Councilwoman Meg Salyer said about the district. “What has happened here in the Plaza District was the putting down of stakes in the Lyric Theater that began to bring this creative talent to this neighborhood ... and the growth that followed. It’s exactly the type of story we tell and people don’t believe it.”

New businesses like Oak & Ore opened their doors in 2014, while even more storefronts — such as Roxy’s Ice Cream Social — are expected to be occupied in 2015.

While listing off various statistics from the district, Vails also said property values increased by 19 percent in 2014, a real example of the district’s growth.

“Those numbers are  because of our property owners who continue to invest in their property and take care of them,” Vails said.

One of the highlights celebrated by Plaza District leaders was the continued growth of 16th Street’s status as an everyday retail district.

“Record sales used to be [during] Live on the Plaza,” Vails said about the monthly event. “But we are starting to see stores have record sales on regular weekends.”

Wednesday's State of the Plaza was the last major district event for Kristen Vails as director of the Plaza District Association as she departs for another position. A farewell to Vails was a major theme of the evening, including a proclamation from Rep. Jason Dunnington, D-Oklahoma City, to Vails for her service to the district.

“What you’ve been able to accomplish ... has been nothing short of amazing,” Dunnington said.

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