In Tulsa, Oklahoma’s second city, longtime resident Ryan Daniel Brown says the neighborhoods to avoid are on the north side of town:
Some recent events in Tulsa amount to clear and convincing evidence that what Mr Brown says may be true.
The Burglarized Church
On the last weekend in August 2014, thieves burglarized the Pine Street Christian Church and dismantled the air conditioning (AC) unit to steal the copper inside it. There have been so many burglaries on the church’s property that its insurer has cancelled coverage. The congregation is trying to raise money to replace the AC unit and to protect their property with more lights, cameras, and barbed wire. Tulsa police say cases of AC thefts have increased lately in North Tulsa.
The Defunct Supermarket
A few weeks earlier, the nearby Gateway Market on North Peoria Street, North Tulsa’s only grocery supermarket, closed down after a four-year struggle for sustainability. Gateway, which opened in 2010 after the building sat empty for years after an Albertsons outlet at that location closed, in 2009 received from the Tulsa City Council $2.2 million in community development block grant small business funding for its grand opening. Gateway management said shoplifting and inventory shrinkage had become major problems for profitability in store operations.
A Big Bust
On Labor Day 2014 the Tulsa World reported indictments against 51 members of Tulsa’s “most violent and dangerous gang” that had trafficked over a three-year period more than 600 kilograms of cocaine worth $10 million. According to prosecutors, many of the gang’s “drug-stash houses” are in the vicinity of Booker T Washington High School a few blocks to the northeast of the Gateway location.
Dejection and Desolation
After what authorities characterized as racially motivated shootings killed three and wounded two in predominantly black North Tulsa, residents expressed more doubts than hopes of improvement in conditions. One 21-year-old resident said “When night comes, I’m inside. Around nine o’clock, all I hear is gunshots,” USA Today reported, describing the area as “pocked with blight, vacant lots, and its share of crime — what the past three decades or so didn’t take here, the recession did.”
Dozens of homes and businesses are vacant. There are houses with plywood covering the windows, houses in partial collapse from arson fires, and on Peoria Avenue to the north the mostly abandoned McLain Village shopping mall is a shadow of what it was when it opened in 1962.
An Uncertain Outlook
Much of the area suffers from crime, drugs, poverty, unemployment, and abandonment of commercial and residential buildings. There are nearly 1,000 abandoned homes and businesses in North Tulsa. Although there are signs of a tentative turnaround with some new construction underway, well-maintained churches, schools, and homes must coexist with empty storefronts, deserted gas stations, and defaced former homes. Overall, residents are hopeful but not encouraged about prospects for revitalization and renewal.
One resident commented in print on a newspaper account of the Gateway closing:
“When the shoplifting exceeds the profit margin it’s a lost cause. When the demographic in this area stops stealing, a store might have a chance. That will be right around the time there is free ice cream in hello. So now they will travel to other areas to steal. It is what they do and all the politically correct denials in the world cannot change that.”
Tulsa Property Managers is a Jenks property management company offering professional property and real estate management, consulting and sales services throughout the Jenks and Tulsa, Oklahoma area.