A new multiuse development, “The Half,” is coming to Oklahoma City. The project isn’t the only of its kind underway in the metro, but developers say its central location and unique vendors could entice locals and out-of-towners alike. Journal Record editor Russell Ray discusses the project’s goals and recent branding, as well as how Oklahoma’s liquor laws have affected the development.
Drew Hutchinson: You’re listening to the Business Intelligence Report, a weekly conversation about business news in Oklahoma. I’m Drew Hutchinson, and joining me is Russell Ray, editor of the Journal Record. Hi, Russell.
Russell Ray: Hello Drew. It’s good to be here.
Hutchinson: So today, I’d like to discuss a development project in central Oklahoma City that your reporter Brian Brus wrote about. Two Oklahoma City-based companies, American Fidelity Property Company and Hogan Property Company, plan to develop 52 acres into a multi-use district on the east side of I-235. It’s called “The Half.” Russell, would you like to tell listeners a little bit about where that name comes from?
Ray: Well, the developers said the name was inspired by the idea that the location for this project is halfway between Edmond and the heart of Oklahoma. It’s also halfway between Britton Road and Wilshire Boulevard.
Hutchinson: There have been a few new development proposals in Oklahoma City over the past year. In fact, Oklahoma City Council recently approved another mixed-use development project near Penn Square Mall. So what do developers and officials think will make “The Half” unique?
Ray: Well, some are pointing to its central location. Others might point to a nearby brewhouse and local restaurants. And others might point to the hotel space, housing, office buildings and the outdoor activities planned for the location. For the developers, the goal is to bring residents and out-of-towners together in a central spot. Right now, the goal is to complete the mixed-use development in 2020.
Hutchinson: So, Flix Brewhouse is a movie theater-microbrewery-restaurant combination. And it’s also the first building scheduled to open in the new district. And Chicken N Pickle is a restaurant that also features pickleball courts. And for those who don’t know, pickleball is a sport that combines tennis, badminton and ping-pong. And The Half will also house corporate spaces.
Ray: Well that’s right. In addition, American Fidelity headquarters will be housed in The Half. A construction company is moving its headquarters there, as well. And the developers are very hopeful they can attract other high-quality tenants.
Hutchinson: Right. So let’s talk a little bit about the background of this project. According to Brian Brus’s story, in 2012, American Fidelity bought an office tower in the area that used to belong to the Oklahoma Publishing Company. American Fidelity also bought 150 partially landscaped areas. Then a few years later, Randy Hogan announced his plans to grow the area. But there were a couple roadblocks.
Ray: Well, yeah, that’s right. The developer said plans to move forward with the project were delayed by the state’s alcohol laws. He wanted to serve drinks in theaters without having to designate an area in the theater for adults only. Since then, the state’s liquor laws have been adjusted, which prompted the developer to begin moving forward with the project once again.
Hutchinson: And of course that’s in reference to Oklahoma State Question 792, which allowed wine and strong beer to be sold in grocery stores and convenience stores. And House Bill 2186 passed back in 2017, and that allowed movie theaters to sell low-point beer without instituting an “adults only” section. And both of these were steps to modernize Oklahoma’s liquor laws.
Ray: Well that’s right. You said it, Drew. The developer told us the brewhouse’s interest in coming to Oklahoma was largely dependent on the passage of these laws.
Hutchinson: Russell Ray is editor of The Journal Record. Thank you for your time, Russell.
Ray: My pleasure, Drew. Thank you.
Hutchinson: KGOU and The Journal Record collaborate each week on the Business Intelligence Report. You can follow us both on social media. We're on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter: @journalrecord and @KGOUnews. You'll find links to the stories we discussed during this episode at JournalRecord.com. And this conversation, along with previous episodes of the Business Intelligence Report, are available on our website, KGOU.org. While you're there, you can check out other features and podcasts produced by KGOU and our StateImpact reporting team. For KGOU and the Business Intelligence Report, I'm Drew Hutchinson.
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