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Business owners in run down area of Oklahoma City want changes

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- Business owners on the south side of Oklahoma City may soon begin taxing themselves, in efforts to help improve the S.W. 29th street district corridor.

Many say they are desperate to give the area a new image, a thought that was conceived bout three years ago.

They want the city to sanction it as a business improvement district.

But it hasn't been given the green light yet. The business owners looking for change need more than half of business owners along the corridor on board by July 31st.

A drive down S.W. 29th may bring words to mind like run down or dilapidated.

Business owners know it and they want change.

"I want to see south Oklahoma City in a positive light, not a negative light," Kenneth Ramsey, a property owner says.

"Everyone thinks it's a street filled with crime, but it's not," Juan Manuel Torres, owner of El Raton Vaquero, a western boutique says.

Both of these men have been business owners on the street for more than 15 years.

"Everybody in Oklahoma City needs to get to know south Oklahoma City, because there's good people over here, Spanish, white, we're just people," Ramsey says.

"We need more people walking, more tourism," Torres said.

Community leaders are urging business owners to sign a petition for the city to sanction the south side as a business improvement district, similar to the Plaza or Paseo.

"Beautification, promoting this in a strategic way, publicity, PR marketing, social media... those are the types of things that business owners will have access to,"  Emma Dean Kratochwill, executive director for SW 29th Business Improvement District Association says.

The catch? Each business owner would acquire a tax based on property size over 10 years to raise money for the benefits.

"This would be one of the most awesome ways we could do accomplish getting a better image and becoming a destination," Kratochwill said.

Torres says he's ready.

"We need to dig in our own pockets without hesitation," Torres said.

But others want to be sure it will work.

"As long as I know the money is spent wisely, and I know the city is involved with taking care of the street issues, then I'm kind of for it," Ramsey said.

"I'm asking, please take our street into account, let's leave that image behind that S.W. 29th is ridden with gunshots, it's not," Torres says.

Signatures for the petition must be turned into the city by July 31.

For more information visit the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce website.


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