As the energy industry in Oklahoma continues to stay strong, smaller towns like Muskogee have begun to invest in making their downtowns more welcoming to young professional families that want to stay out of the big city. Muskogee’s downtown has slowly been building its credibility as an arts and entertainment district, which is walking distance from new homes being built in the area.
In June, the Muskogee City Council awarded developers zoning support for the Muskogee Arts District Homes project. The project was awarded tax credits in November for its status as an income-qualified housing project consisting of the construction and rehabilitation of 36 residential units.
According to Debbie Hart of Housing Plus, LLC, a Springfield, MO- based firm collaborating in the development, eight of the units will be loft apartments on the second floor of the historic Severs Block Building. Each two-bedroom loft is being designed in consultation with a historic preservation consultant and an architect whose work with the state historic Preservation Office brought her to work with the building on previous occasions.
Single-family, three-bedroom homes will be built near the site of the new Muskogee Little Theater facility, just south of downtown. The houses will be built to LEED 2009 green building standards. “We are absolutely getting ready to do that,” Hart said about her company’s plans to move forward with the housing development. “We are pretty darn excited about it, too.”
With the development’s financing being distributed in stages, construction of the single-family houses will begin in April. After the foundations are poured and the sub-contractors have begun construction, work will being renovating the Severs Building Apartments. Hart and her company have reportedly worked round the clock with city staffers to ensure that permitting issues are handled in the best interests of Muskogee. The City of Muskogee will donate 19 lots to the project, holding a total value of $13,500. It will also realign traffic flow to accommodate construction, address the storm water drainage issues, and supervise water and sewer improvements worth over $14,500.