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Author Topic: TU and University Blvd.  (Read 12170 times)
SXSW
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« on: June 21, 2010, 01:17:15 pm »

A friend of mine lives on campus at TU and I've been spending some time on campus.  The campus is really beautiful and well laid-out, and the skyline views from the library are fantastic.  I am still not a big fan of their 'front door' expansion but it has grown on me, mainly because of all the large trees they have planted which makes it look better.  I still would like to see those same apartments actually front the sidewalk on 11th instead of the fence and parking that is there now, and it would also be nice to see more sidewalks criss-crossing and landscaping on the new grassy oval.  

The whole point of the 'front door' project was to open up the campus to 11th Street.  In many ways TU has always turned its back to 11th and because of that it lacks any sort of urban character with fast food restaurants and small strip malls dominating that stretch of road across the street from the university.  Obviously it would be nice to have a 'Campus Corner'-like area here with the same and new restaurants/shops but in an urban format fronting the sidewalks and campus.  Something like that would probably have to be initiated by TU working with private developers and landowners.  

To get this started and to enhance the presence of TU throughout the city, I propose renaming 11th Street to University Blvd. from Elgin downtown (where it splits into 10th & 11th) east to the Creek Turnpike.  That would help brand any new district created along 11th by TU as the University district, and other redevelopment along 11th from Peoria to Delaware would be 'on University' just like stuff on 15th between Peoria and Utica is 'on Cherry Street' or on Peoria between 31st and 41st is 'on Brookside' and so on.  While the renaming would be mostly limited to changing addresses and street signs it would hopefully coincide with sidewalk/streetscaping improvements from at least downtown to TU.
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« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2010, 01:40:04 pm »

With regards to the fence: while I don't like it, I certainly understand why it was installed. When I attended TU, there were a LOT of car and apartment break-ins. The students demanded that TU address the situation. TU decided to create entrance/exit chokeholds through which all traffic had to pass, thereby making it easier to patrol. I don't think you'll see the fencing go away for several years, or at least until the area just west of the campus is re-developed/gentrified.

I do like the University Blvd idea. There are several 1920s-1940s buildings in the area, plus a couple that have adopted the look of TU buildings (like the dental group at 11th and Indianapolis) that have maintained a nice street-front presence. The only downside I see is that there hasn't been as much of a grassroots push to revitalize 11th street as I have seen for 6th street/Pearl district. You'll certainly have a lot of support from Renaissance neighborhood (who has been working for at least 10 years to revitalize their neighborhood), and Maria Barnes can probably help with Kendall-Whittier.
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« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2010, 02:39:17 pm »

I would vote for 6th St to be University Blvd. Its "more downtown" than 11th St
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« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2010, 03:41:06 pm »

With regards to the fence: while I don't like it, I certainly understand why it was installed. When I attended TU, there were a LOT of car and apartment break-ins. The students demanded that TU address the situation. TU decided to create entrance/exit chokeholds through which all traffic had to pass, thereby making it easier to patrol. I don't think you'll see the fencing go away for several years, or at least until the area just west of the campus is re-developed/gentrified.

I do like the University Blvd idea. There are several 1920s-1940s buildings in the area, plus a couple that have adopted the look of TU buildings (like the dental group at 11th and Indianapolis) that have maintained a nice street-front presence. The only downside I see is that there hasn't been as much of a grassroots push to revitalize 11th street as I have seen for 6th street/Pearl district. You'll certainly have a lot of support from Renaissance neighborhood (who has been working for at least 10 years to revitalize their neighborhood), and Maria Barnes can probably help with Kendall-Whittier.

The problem with the area west of campus is the large number of small, lower-income apartment complexes interspersed with the houses.  Renaissance didn't have those which is why I think that area has done so well.  TU has been actively buying property in that area for years now, I wonder what their future plans are for campus expansion?  I'd rather see more student townhomes built than more large apartment complexes.  Or apartments with street level retail/restaurants across from campus or along 11th west of Delaware.  In another thread I mentioned how 11th crosses the tracks just west of Lewis, and how that would be a great place for a stop on a future light rail line to BA and, with abandoned or industrial buildings around it, a perfect place for TOD.  

I see 6th staying a primarily residential street from TU to Utica with a small commercial strip from Utica to Peoria where there are existing commercial storefronts and where the canal will go.  11th/University is already a commercial corridor that with more infill and new businesses could be the longest urban 'strip' in the city connecting TU and surrounding neighborhoods to downtown, specifically Elgin where we are trying to build up more businesses through Blue Dome and up past the ballpark to OSU.  This could be the shot in the arm the neighborhoods to the north and south of 11th between Peoria and Harvard need to further gentrify.  With the exception of Renaissance by TU many of those neighborhoods are still pretty rough, though I've noticed the neighborhoods just west of Renaissance towards Lewis are getting better.  Many people who want to live in midtown but can't afford it are attracted to these areas.  I almost bought a place near Renaissance before I found a place in Swan Lake.

Just look at what has happened in Brookside and Cherry Street and the neighborhoods on either side.  I don't see 11th/University being like those though and would have to develop its own identity.  Playing up the Route 66 history is important.  Maybe add more neon similar to the Meadow Gold sign.  Maybe it could be a focus for ethnic restaurants, of which there are already several and *should* be more being so close to a diverse university like TU.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2010, 03:49:07 pm by SXSW » Logged

 
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« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2010, 08:29:57 am »

  If I were king for a day... I would build a block wide, linear park between two streets that went from the TU library lawn towards downtown connecting to the Pearl District.  Then zone it to have 2 to 6 story buildings up to wide sidewalks, on either side of the park.  The school could grow the campus towards downtown in  part of the area.  There could be a hospital corridor in the middle, then the Pearl with its canal and shops at the other end.  Residential behind that or some mid-rise/high-rise residential also on the park corridor. The park itself could be wide and open in one section, long and narrow with trees in another, perhaps slightly hilly and treed with a winding "creek" in another.  They would all connect with a central sidewalk/bike trail along this long avenue, but have different and interesting feels along the way. 
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« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2010, 09:30:07 am »

  If I were king for a day... I would build a block wide, linear park between two streets that went from the TU library lawn towards downtown connecting to the Pearl District.  Then zone it to have 2 to 6 story buildings up to wide sidewalks, on either side of the park.  The school could grow the campus towards downtown in  part of the area.  There could be a hospital corridor in the middle, then the Pearl with its canal and shops at the other end.  Residential behind that or some mid-rise/high-rise residential also on the park corridor. The park itself could be wide and open in one section, long and narrow with trees in another, perhaps slightly hilly and treed with a winding "creek" in another.  They would all connect with a central sidewalk/bike trail along this long avenue, but have different and interesting feels along the way. 

Love the idea.  TU did basically the same thing with its 'front door' project, though that was only 3 blocks.  If not a park then a grand boulevard along 11th/University and turn 6th into 2 lanes (right now it's 4) with bike lanes and street trees.  It would be the more residential, 'bike route' to downtown with bike lanes going all the way from TU through downtown on 6th while 11th/University would be more of a commercial corridor with a similar setup like Cherry Street with 4 lanes of traffic with parallel parking at the outer lanes.  New infill would have to front the sidewalk with parking behind.
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« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2010, 10:22:58 am »

I do believe TU has already been so honored with what should be Evanston Pl. being named College Ave.
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« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2010, 11:33:18 am »

To get this started and to enhance the presence of TU throughout the city, I propose renaming 11th Street to University Blvd. from Elgin downtown (where it splits into 10th & 11th) east to the Creek Turnpike.

All the way east, past 193rd E Ave to the Creek Turnpike?  There is only about another 1/2 mile until 11th St turns north and becomes N 225th E Ave.  (according to Google Maps) Might as well take the last little bit.   I doubt TU would have much effect on development that far east though.
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dsjeffries
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« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2010, 12:05:07 pm »

With regards to the fence: while I don't like it, I certainly understand why it was installed. When I attended TU, there were a LOT of car and apartment break-ins. The students demanded that TU address the situation. TU decided to create entrance/exit chokeholds through which all traffic had to pass, thereby making it easier to patrol. I don't think you'll see the fencing go away for several years, or at least until the area just west of the campus is re-developed/gentrified.

I do like the University Blvd idea. There are several 1920s-1940s buildings in the area, plus a couple that have adopted the look of TU buildings (like the dental group at 11th and Indianapolis) that have maintained a nice street-front presence. The only downside I see is that there hasn't been as much of a grassroots push to revitalize 11th street as I have seen for 6th street/Pearl district. You'll certainly have a lot of support from Renaissance neighborhood (who has been working for at least 10 years to revitalize their neighborhood), and Maria Barnes can probably help with Kendall-Whittier.

I've been waiting to respond to this thread until I had some time to write a more thorough response, but that time still hasn't come, so I'll be brief.

The 'rash' of car and apartment break-ins at TU was non-existent, Robert. I did some checking last winter and the year before they installed the fences and gates, there were 9 break-ins. Two years into it, there were 7. That told me a couple things. First, there was no 'crime wave' as the University would have everyone believe. Second, this massive (and expensive, I might add) experiment on 'safety' failed to accomplish anything. A two-car reduction is well within any kind of normal fluctuation.

What was really going on was TU distancing itself from the very neighborhood that it 'grew up' with. It is an urban university in an urban setting, and by cutting off all access points to surrounding neighborhoods to the north, east, south and west, TU has said, "We're not a part of you, don't come here". Take a drive around the campus and you'll notice that they've taken out whole roads that once led to the cute houses north of the campus. In their place? 7-foot-tall privacy fences and over-lit surface parking lots. They've also spent the last several years buying up houses and buildings on the east side of Harvard and systematically tearing them down. For whose benefit? What good has come of it? None.

The area west of campus along Sixth Street is often referenced as a 'good reason' to put up that fence. I find that more than a bit disturbing, because that neighborhood's current state of disrepair and criminal activity is directly attributable to the University of Tulsa itself. In the early 1960s, TU was bursting at the seams and had no where to house all of its students. At one point, TU had over 8,000 students. Because of their housing shortage, they successfully got the City of Tulsa to re-zone the entire area west of Delaware for multi-family housing. The result? A lot of great little bungalows with actual white, picket fences and big front porches, filled with families, were demolished to make way for cheap, crappy apartments for students.

Within a couple years, TU realized it was a mistake to grow the student population so large so quickly, and they quickly un-bloated themselves. Suddenly, there was a huge excess of low-rent apartments in the area and no one to rent them. The neighborhood deteriorated quickly from that point to what it is today. The University created a problem and has now decided to turn its back on the neighborhood it single-handedly destroyed.

Putting up fences and cutting off roads is NOT the answer. The answer is community outreach, working with its neighbors to clean it up, get the criminals out, and make it safer again.

Suburbanizing an urban campus is not the answer. TU has now become an internal suburb of Tulsa, with twisting culs-de-sac, fenced-off parking with only one way in and out and the clearing of useful land and buildings for no benefit to the community. They're now a suburban fortress. All they need is a moat.

What TU has done over the past five years is not commendable, nor is what it did in the 1960s. They don't learn from their mistakes, and as a result, keep on destroying the surrounding neighborhoods, piece by piece.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2010, 12:06:48 pm by dsjeffries » Logged
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« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2010, 02:31:47 pm »

The 'rash' of car and apartment break-ins at TU was non-existent, Robert. I did some checking last winter and the year before they installed the fences and gates, there were 9 break-ins. Two years into it, there were 7. That told me a couple things. First, there was no 'crime wave' as the University would have everyone believe. Second, this massive (and expensive, I might add) experiment on 'safety' failed to accomplish anything. A two-car reduction is well within any kind of normal fluctuation.

Out of curiosity, where did your numbers come from. Having worked at The Collegian, and knowing people who had been victims, I know that there were far more break-ins than were ever reported by (or maybe to) the campus police.
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« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2010, 03:00:07 pm »

I've been waiting to respond to this thread until I had some time to write a more thorough response, but that time still hasn't come, so I'll be brief.

The 'rash' of car and apartment break-ins at TU was non-existent, Robert. I did some checking last winter and the year before they installed the fences and gates, there were 9 break-ins. Two years into it, there were 7. That told me a couple things. First, there was no 'crime wave' as the University would have everyone believe. Second, this massive (and expensive, I might add) experiment on 'safety' failed to accomplish anything. A two-car reduction is well within any kind of normal fluctuation.

What was really going on was TU distancing itself from the very neighborhood that it 'grew up' with. It is an urban university in an urban setting, and by cutting off all access points to surrounding neighborhoods to the north, east, south and west, TU has said, "We're not a part of you, don't come here". Take a drive around the campus and you'll notice that they've taken out whole roads that once led to the cute houses north of the campus. In their place? 7-foot-tall privacy fences and over-lit surface parking lots. They've also spent the last several years buying up houses and buildings on the east side of Harvard and systematically tearing them down. For whose benefit? What good has come of it? None.

The area west of campus along Sixth Street is often referenced as a 'good reason' to put up that fence. I find that more than a bit disturbing, because that neighborhood's current state of disrepair and criminal activity is directly attributable to the University of Tulsa itself. In the early 1960s, TU was bursting at the seams and had no where to house all of its students. At one point, TU had over 8,000 students. Because of their housing shortage, they successfully got the City of Tulsa to re-zone the entire area west of Delaware for multi-family housing. The result? A lot of great little bungalows with actual white, picket fences and big front porches, filled with families, were demolished to make way for cheap, crappy apartments for students.

Within a couple years, TU realized it was a mistake to grow the student population so large so quickly, and they quickly un-bloated themselves. Suddenly, there was a huge excess of low-rent apartments in the area and no one to rent them. The neighborhood deteriorated quickly from that point to what it is today. The University created a problem and has now decided to turn its back on the neighborhood it single-handedly destroyed.

Putting up fences and cutting off roads is NOT the answer. The answer is community outreach, working with its neighbors to clean it up, get the criminals out, and make it safer again.

Suburbanizing an urban campus is not the answer. TU has now become an internal suburb of Tulsa, with twisting culs-de-sac, fenced-off parking with only one way in and out and the clearing of useful land and buildings for no benefit to the community. They're now a suburban fortress. All they need is a moat.

What TU has done over the past five years is not commendable, nor is what it did in the 1960s. They don't learn from their mistakes, and as a result, keep on destroying the surrounding neighborhoods, piece by piece.

Thank you for this assessment, it was very interesting.  What do you think needs to be done in order for TU to change its ways?  It sounds like the west campus neighborhood is directly TU's problem and TU should deal with it.  TU has a very nice campus but you are right it feels cut off from surrounding neighborhoods.  I hope to see that change. 
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dsjeffries
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« Reply #11 on: June 22, 2010, 03:21:41 pm »

Out of curiosity, where did your numbers come from. Having worked at The Collegian, and knowing people who had been victims, I know that there were far more break-ins than were ever reported by (or maybe to) the campus police.

I got my numbers from another former Collegian writer. Looking for a primary source just now, I found data on Campus Security's website. Unfortunately, it only shows 2006, 2007 and 2008, so we can't really look at long-term trends. I also found data on 2001, 2002 and 2004 from the Collegian 1 2 3, which helps paint a somewhat clearer picture, but I'd like to see data from the gap years and 2009. One of the articles mentioned a 27% increase in burglaries, but doesn't mention any numbers--so you could have a 27% increase from 3 to 4. Gotta get more info!

Here's what I found relating to car thefts on campus:
2001- 9
x
x
2004- 14
x
2006- 6
2007- 15
2008- 9

The data in itself not conclusive, which actually conclusively shows that the fence has had no effect on the vehicle thefts.

The fences are there for purely psychological reasons (giving a "sense" of security, not actual security) and have unintended psychological effects on the neighborhood.
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« Reply #12 on: June 22, 2010, 03:52:13 pm »

The fences are there for purely psychological reasons (giving a "sense" of security, not actual security) and have unintended psychological effects on the neighborhood.

I completely agree with you on that point; I was pointing out the TU installed the fences due to demands from students and parents. Now, would the fencing have been my choice? No, or at least maybe only in certain areas (definately NOT along 11th street and Harvard!).
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dsjeffries
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« Reply #13 on: June 22, 2010, 04:04:50 pm »

I completely agree with you on that point; I was pointing out the TU installed the fences due to demands from students and parents. Now, would the fencing have been my choice? No, or at least maybe only in certain areas (definately NOT along 11th street and Harvard!).

I certainly don't remember any students requesting a fence, and I was very heavily involved on campus. I remember certain members of Student Association Senate having meetings with security and administrators who simply assured everyone that it was in TU's and the community's best interest.

And to think that the university administration acted upon a mandate by the students is kind of laughable. When is the last time they ever intently listened to the students' concerns?

I'm not saying you're wrong, but if that's something you heard from university administrators, you might want a second source--they've never been forthright about anything. (I'd want to see if they could actually produce a single letter demanding fences). What the Board of Trustees wants, they get... Including massive quantities of acorn lights.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2010, 04:07:07 pm by dsjeffries » Logged
dsjeffries
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« Reply #14 on: June 22, 2010, 04:18:31 pm »

Thank you for this assessment, it was very interesting.  What do you think needs to be done in order for TU to change its ways?  It sounds like the west campus neighborhood is directly TU's problem and TU should deal with it.  TU has a very nice campus but you are right it feels cut off from surrounding neighborhoods.  I hope to see that change. 

Good luck seeing any positive change--all of this "we'll sequester ourselves and let the problem fester" mentality is alive and unfortunately driving most of their current decisions. They've been going in reverse the past several years. I've drawn some maps to show what all has been destroyed.

TU, 1965:


TU, 2004:


TU, 2008:


Total destruction:
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