“Hope that we can actually see change…” city council aims to revamp Northeast OKC

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OKLAHOMA CITY--City council is cracking down on high crime areas. A move made by the council Tuesday may soon close several properties across Northeast OKC. But some on the council are worried about what will happen after the businesses are bought up.

"You see an abandoned dilapidated gas station, you see a car wash that for years has been crime infested," said John Pettis, City Councilman for Ward 7. "People of Northeast OKC deserve better than what you see now.

But soon, the view in Northeast OKC could change after city council approved the Northeast Renaissance Urban Renewal Plan by a vote of 7-2.

The plan affects the areas generally within North Phillips Avenue, North Sooner Road, NE 36th Street, and NE 20th Street in Ward 7.

"We're going after dilapidated, crime infested commercial properties," said Pettis.

The city is going after them using eminent domain targeting rundown, many times abandoned businesses, in the hopes that more reputable stores will move in.

"I have a crack prostitution motel....a crack gas station that's now vacant," said Pettis during Tuesday's city council meeting. "I have a crack car wash where people have been killed, stabbed and shot... That is not okay."

Still, some on the council say the city needs a plan in place for new businesses, before they take over old ones.

"I don't want to be in a situation where we take land, and it lays there 25-30 years for a miracle to happen," said Ward 4 Councilman, Pete White during the meeting.

The city assures that they'll only be buying businesses, meaning family homes are safe. For many in the area, Tuesday's news brings one thing.

"Hope...hope that we can actually see change," said Rev. James Dorn with Mount Triumph Baptist Church. "I'm very excited about the opportunity for this area to experience growth."

The city also proposed more changes in the area, which could bring millions of dollars in tax revenue for Ward 7. That proposal will go before the council for a vote in January.

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