Developers bringing welcome change to northeast Oklahoma City community

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Two developers are fixated on improving a building in northeast Oklahoma City, and hope their work inspires others.

"The first time we walked through it, we saw these folks had been forgotten about. It was just kind of running itself. Management was nonexistent,” Developer Jason Thompson said.

Developers Jason Thompson and Dave Burnett are tackling the old Prince Hall in northeast Oklahoma City, transforming the structure and even changing its name to Uptown @ Kelley in hopes that it will also change its reputation.

"Sometime in the 80s and 90s, it became very crime-ridden and when we took the community over, we began working on removing those elements from the community,” Thompson said.

In the next year, the developers plan to install a 24-hour guard station at the affordable housing community.

“We put in granite countertops, new cabinets,” Thompson said.

Thompson and his business partner are spending $8 million to fix electrical and plumbing issues, and beautifying the exterior. They are welcome improvements for Emmett Lambert, who lived here in the 1970s. He's now doing the construction to renovate it.

"To see a change in this community is really positive. That's been needed in the northeast side for a long time,” Emmett Lambert said.

One of the key features at Uptown @ Kelley will be a food pantry, event space, and church ministry.

"The idea would be to have a ministry either as a satellite of their church or solely here, come in and run this food bank and food kitchen," Thompson said.

Thompson says he invested in this project for two reasons; to be at the forefront of a growing area and help others already in the neighborhood.

"It allows a forgotten community that's had some serious struggles to get back on its feet and help these people to have the resources they need," Thompson said.

"Hopefully it catches on and really grows the rest of the east side to be revitalized as a nice thriving community,” Lambert said.

The plan is to have the center up in the fall and the rest of the apartments complete by next summer.

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