K-Dub Food Truck Festival, April 6

Don’t miss the food and fun of the K-Dub Food Truck Festival on Saturday, April 6! From noon to 6:00pm, sample gourmet eats from six of Tulsa’s most popular food trucks, listen to amazing local musicians, and browse local vendors. This family-friendly event promises to be a fun and relaxing afternoon in the heart of Whittier Square.

The festival takes place in the parking lot on the southeast corner of Admiral & Lewis. Admission is free!

Parking Map

Watch this space for further announcements, including the lineup of food trucks and bands, parking information, and special events happening in Whittier Square during the festival. You can also check out the festival Facebook event page for the latest information.

Selser Schaefer Architects Moves Into Tulsa Ice Company Building

A warm welcome to the Kendall Whittier neighborhood to the 40 employees of Selser Schaefer Architects. The company rehabilitated the formerly vacant Tulsa Ice Company building at 6th Street & Xanthus Avenue into their stunning new office.

Selser Schaefer is an ideal fit for the blossoming creative corridor between downtown and The University of Tulsa campus. Kendall Whittier is a neighborhood where creatives of all types live and work — from artists to architects, painters to photographers, writers to filmmakers.

To learn more about the project, check out the Tulsa World article by Robert Evatt.

Rolling Out the Red Carpet Gala Event in Historic Whittier Square, February 21

Have you ever wondered how it felt to be a Hollywood celebrity walking the red carpet at an awards show? Wonder no more and experience it for yourself!

Mark your calendars and purchase your tickets now for this unique fundraising gala. Guests will be treated to a “Red Carpet Experience” including limousines, paparazzi, photo on the red carpet and awards show swag bag, plus an evening of champagne, amazing food, and Tulsa history films on the big screens.

Come walk the red carpet at Tulsa’s Historic Circle Cinema, Thursday, February 21, 6:00 – 9:00pm! Full event details available here.

Meet our new Executive Director, Ed Sharrer

We are excited to announce the hiring of a new executive director, Ed Sharrer.

Sharrer brings a wealth of experience in historic preservation, city planning, marketing and promotions to Kendall Whittier Main Street.

“Ed has outstanding qualifications and a deep knowledge base to draw from as we pursue our goal of reviving the Kendall Whittier district to true economic vitality,” said Wendy Thomas, KWMS board president and executive director of Leadership Tulsa,, “His past experiences perfectly qualify him to find creative ways to build on the substantial assets already in the neighborhood and to attract others to live, to work and to play.”

As a Planner II with the City of Tulsa, he served as the co-lead planner for the update of the City of Tulsa Zoning Code, project manager for the Utica Midtown (North) small area plan, and project manager for the Mayor’s Institute on City Design Technical Institute.

An award-winning web designer before entering the planning field, Sharrer staffed the Tulsa Preservation Commission for five years, working with hundreds of homeowners on historic rehab projects.

His specialties include public speaking, event coordination, online marketing, and social media. He has a bachelor’s in marketing from The University of Tulsa and a master’s degree from the Urban Design Studio at The University of Oklahoma.

Sharrer is eager to jump in with the Main Street initiatives and help attract investment and development to the neighborhood.

“Kendall Whittier is on the cusp of a major transformation and I’m excited to be a part of it,” said Sharrer, “There’s a creative energy in the neighborhood that’s already attracting renewed interest and vitality. Kendall Whittier has assets that no other part of Tulsa can offer, such as the Circle Cinema, Tulsa’s last remaining historic movie theater, and Fab Lab, an innovation facility connected to MIT’s global network of fabrication laboratories.”

Reach out to Ed by e-mailing historickwms@gmail.com.

Kendall Whittier Welcomes Leadership Tulsa Class 48

Leadership Tulsa logoKendall Whittier is proud to host Leadership Tulsa‘s Class 48 for Midtown Day. The class will hear from a panel of organizations working in Kendall Whittier, including Circle Cinema Foundation, George Kaiser Family Foundation, Community Action Project, Tulsa Preservation Commission, The University of Tulsa True Blue Neighbors, and Kendall Whittier Main Street.

After a morning of presentations and discussion at the Circle Cinema, the class will tour San Miguel School, the Hardesty Center for Fab Lab Tulsa, and Marshall Brewing Company to learn about just a few of the exciting developments happening in the neighborhood. Welcome to Kendall Whittier!

Tulsa World: Whittier Square is “Redeveloped”

Tulsa’s Whittier Square is ‘developed’ for a day

By MICHAEL OVERALL World Staff Writer

Waiting to cross the street, a pedestrian nonchalantly leaned against a lamp pole, and the pole nearly fell over.

It was nothing but a prop, sitting on a plywood base, light enough to pick up and carry.

The crosswalk was made out of white tape, easy to pull up. And a bike lane was marked with cardboard signs, sure to disintegrate during the first rainstorm.

For one brief evening Wednesday, Whittier Square looked revitalized, complete with shops and landscaping and bustling crowds.

But it was all temporary.

“It’s a live rendering,” explained Andrew Howard, a construction director from a Dallas group called Team Better Block. “Instead of drawing a picture, we’re going to actually build it for a day to see what it could look like.”

First developed in the 1920s, Whittier Square was originally a thriving neighborhood east of downtown, where old Route 66 met Lewis Avenue.

In more recent decades, it’s been a block notorious for derelict buildings and seedy bookstores.

But the Circle Cinema and a few other projects have offered a glimpse of redevelopment. And two years ago, it was designated an “Oklahoma Main Street,” a statewide program to preserve and revitalize older shopping districts.

With Main Street coordinators coming to Tulsa from all over Oklahoma for some annual sessions, they decided to get out of the conference room and conduct an experiment.

“We could make a Power- Point presentation to show people what this area needs,” Howard said. “But what if we let people walk around in a revitalized Whittier Square for one night? People can see for themselves what’s possible with just a little investment.”

The improvements included angled parking and sidewalk lighting. And Lewis Avenue shrunk to two lanes to make traffic more pedestrian-friendly.

Vacant storefronts became a hardware shop, an art gallery and a wine and coffee bar with cafe seating outdoors.

But it will all disappear Thursday morning.

“It’s a shame,” said Stephanie LaFevers, executive director of the Circle Cinema Foundation and a member of the Kendall Whittier Main Street board. “But I really think it’s going to look like this again someday.”

Similar efforts have led to real, permanent revitalization in Fort Worth, Memphis, Dallas and other cities.

“It shows people what can be done,” LaFevers said. “Hopefully, it inspires people to make it real.”

See full story and more photos at TulsaWorld Online.

Building a Better Kendall Whittier Main Street

Main Street Revamped

50+ main street managers have been hard at work transforming Kendall Whittier Main Street and now, it’s time enjoy the fruits of their labor.

The team has built a “Better Block” in front of Circle Cinema. Join us tonight and enjoy pop up cafes and shops, our new bike lane, our reverse angle parking, and other innovations starting at 4 pm. Lone Wolf Banh Mi food truck will be open from 5 to 9 pm.

Here is a breakdown of additional happenings tonight:

5pm tour of Kendall Whittier better block with team better block founder Jason Roberts. Bring your bike and try out a European style cycle track on Lewis ave!

5pm to 9 pm lone wolf banh mi food truck opens, dine on the newly created street cafe or inside circle cinema.

6:30 to 7:30 pecha kucha 20×20 presentations at Circle Cinema

  • Andrew Howard, Team Better Block, streets for people
  • Wanna Dye, Team Better Block, art repurposed
  • Jason Roberts, Team Better Block, stop planning start acting
  • James Wagner, INCOG, a two lane Lewis
  • Tulsa’s Young Professionals Urbanists Crew Leaders

8pm to 9pm showing of the film Contested Streets at Circle Cinema

With the help of Better Block and Oklahoma Main Street Center, we are closer to fulfilling our mission “to promote and restore Kendall Whittier as a thriving, walkable and welcoming community for living and working.”

The Team Better Block, from Dallas, Texas,  temporarily re-engineers and re-programs auto-dominated, blighted, and underused urban areas into complete ones by working with cities, developers and stakeholders to create quick, inexpensive, high-impact changes. Watch this video to learn more and see the original Better Block project.

Since 1985, more than 60 towns have been a part of the Main Street Center family. There are currently 38 active Main Street programs across the state. Seminole became the newest addition in 2011.  For more information on the Oklahoma Main Street Center visit www.OKcommerce.gov/mainstreet.

More Progress Announced for Kendall Whittier

Shell Life–Home for architecture firm a $1.8 million resurrection of Tulsa Ice Company building

BY JAIME ADAME

The handsome bricks belong to an earlier time, when Tulsa Ice Company hummed with activity.

Never again will the cars pull up to the building on East 6th Street to be loaded with blocks of ice, as was common in 1930s Tulsa.

But the sleepy site just a few blocks east of South Utica Avenue now hums with activity, with work underway to transform the vacant structure into the new home for architecture firm Selser Schaefer.

Rebuilding Tulsa. Janet Selser and Bob Schaefer, principal architects of the fir Selser Schaefer.

Rebuilding Tulsa. Janet Selser and Bob Schaefer, principal architects of the fir Selser Schaefer.

“That building there is simply a shell,” said Bob Schaefer, one of the firm’s two founders. “It has no electricity, no heating and air conditioning.”

“No interior walls,” added his partner, Janet Selser.

“It has no doors,” continued Schaefer, with Selser laughing a bit. “No toilets,” he said.

Such a list might scare off others, but not the creators of what’s become an award-winning firm. The pair started out in 1993 with one employee and “no work,” as Schaefer put it.

Now, they design notable structures in Tulsa and elsewhere. Just recently, the firm designed the North Regional Health and Wellness Center, a major project for the Tulsa Health Department to integrate modern medicine with community rooms all in a park setting. The center on North Cincinnati Avenue opened in September. Even more visible will be the Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa Hardesty Arts Center, an exhibit and community space in the Brady Arts District.

Schaefer and Selser are a husband and wife team who married shortly after founding their business. Their firm has always been housed close to downtown.

“We feel like it’s just a commitment to Tulsa,” Schaefer said. He added: “I just have always felt that way, that one should be in or near the central original central business district.”

BEFORE

BEFORE
AFTER

AFTER

Their current home is on the top floor of the International Plaza building. “The environment in our office now is good,” Schaefer said. “People have room to work. They have room to be creative and interact with each other and share thoughts and collaborate.” The firm now has 42 employees. Schaefer said the pair realized any growth would take away from that environment — so they began scouting for a new home.

“There’s some wonderful buildings in the Brady, but they’re currently, they’re just simply not for sale,” Schaefer said, referring to the Brady Arts District, which also includes another Selser Schaefer design, 200 East Brady, an award-winning transformation of an old warehouse into modern office space.

About to give up, the pair learned about the former Tulsa Ice Company building, which had last been used as an auto parts warehouse but had been sitting vacant for several years.

“It was really important to find a building with character, that had good bones, that had great day lighting in it,” Selser said. “And we wanted high ceilings.”

Their future home fulfills all of these wishes, Schaefer said — calling it “just breathtaking.”

“It has these enormous windows, they start at four feet off the floor and go to 16 feet off the floor,” Schaefer said. “They’re 12 feet tall, they’re 9 feet wide, they just completely surround the room.”

The property cost $900,000, and it’s a $1.8 million renovation project, but the pair plans to make few changes to the building’s exterior beyond turning a dock that runs alongside the building into an outdoor meeting space.

Inside, the focus will be on open space.

“We’ve always put our office together so basically everyone worked together,” Schaefer said. “It’s not a series of cubicles or closed off offices, everyone’s together sharing ideas. And this is going to allow that to happen better than it ever has, because we’ll be able to put virtually the entire office into that one room.”

Selser described how the location at South Xanthus Avenue — adjacent to the Urban Tulsa Weekly office — fits in with a commitment to central Tulsa.

“This is an extension of downtown, and I think that as development continues down here, it’s even going to become more of an extension of downtown, physically. Probably even a little bit emotionally as well,” she said.

Schaefer said the reuse of older buildings is catching on a bit.

“People talk about sustainability and green architecture and all that kind of stuff, and from a sustainability standpoint, it’s incredibly sustainable to reuse the building rather than create a new one or tear down the old one and create a new one,” Schaefer said.

In Tulsa, there are plenty more such potential projects, they said.

“There are quite a few buildings left to repurpose downtown, and hopefully that’s what will happen with most of them, because they are beautiful old buildings that deserve to be repurposed, that deserve to remain,” Selser said. “I think the fabric of the community will be much richer if they stay than if they get torn down.” Schaefer said he couldn’t fault property owners unwilling to sell quite yet. “It’s a very smart move on their part because the Brady is going to become a really important part of Tulsa,” he said. Selser added that while “we just wished it would go faster,” downtown is “going to be spectacular space.”

And they also see big potential for East 6th Street as well, with Selser and Schaefer pointing out several buildings that are ripe for renewal.

Some of the work has already happened. Marshall Brewing Company began operations after transforming an old warehouse on South Wheeling Avenue just a half-block south of East 6th Street. At the corner of East 6th Street and South Peoria Avenue, a warehouse is well on its way to conversion into The Phoenix Café, a project of local developer and City Councilor Blake Ewing. The business is set to open in about a month.

Such work can extend east to South Lewis Avenue, Schaefer said.

“Urban Tulsa and Selser Schaefer are right in the middle of that half-mile, and so, hopefully, between the two of us we’ll start something,” Schaefer said.

Their new home is two blocks east of the Pearl District, where some in the neighborhood have been pushing for adoption of a form-based code designed to reduce auto-centric development in favor of more pedestrian-friendly building designs. Some property owners have objected, however, with most citing concerns that such a code could keep them from altering their property the way they would like in the future.

Not surprisingly, the pair said the form-based code would work well in the neighborhood.

“I honestly do think that the form-based code is the correct way to approach this kind of stuff, especially in these kinds of areas. They place automobile in the right place, which is get them behind the building, don’t put them in front of the buildings,” Schaefer said, with the firm planning to install parking in the rear of their new home. They estimate the work will be finished by the end of January.

Send all comments and feedback regarding City to jadame@urbantulsa.com

Kendall Whittier Hosts Art Off the Square

Get Your Tickets for Art Off The Square October 11

Artists working in and near the historic Kendall Whittier neighborhood will exhibit their varied works for sale at an Art Off the Square fundraiser on Admiral Boulevard east of Lewis Avenue from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm Thursday Oct. 11.

Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit three area nonprofit agencies: Circle Cinema, Kendall Whittier, Inc., and Kendall Whittier Main Street. Proceeds from a silent auction and a portion of art sales will help support two Kendall Whittier Inc. activities: the Emergency Food Pantry Community GROW (Gardening to Reach out and Welcome).

The event will be near the Kendall Whittier square. Photographs, sculpture, paintings, pottery, silkscreen, jewelry, ink drawings, collages, macro photography, watercolors, wooden boxes, and clocks will be for sale. An exhibit of creations by some of the artists will be in the lobby of Circle Cinema, 12 S. Lewis Ave., from Sept. 27 through Oct. 11.

Participating artists include Tulsa Girls Art School students, Penni Gage, Rusty Johnson, Michael Benton, Caty Smith, Christopher Mantle, Bob Sober, Holt Pagano, Third Street Clayworks, Cassie Hamilton, Tommy Ball, Tahlia Roper, Heathyr Chenowith, Charles Thomas, University of Tulsa School of Art students, and FabLab Tulsa artisans.

Food and refreshments will be available from BurnCo, Grub Truck, Treat Street, Mario’s Chicken/Taco Truck, and Marshall Brewing Company. Performers will include the Raks Al-Hassana belly dancing troupe, which is moving its studio to the neighborhood, break- dancing from The Legacy Project s, and eclectic music band 4 Going Gravity.

Tina Hyner’s pottery studio, the Tulsa Girls Art School, the Loose Leaf Collective’s studio, and Ziegler’s Art Supply will all be open until 8:30 pm.

Offerings for a silent auction will include art lessons from Ross Myers, an overnight getaway at Cherokee Casino, four club level Thunder tickets (with parking pass and authentic “Thunder Pack”) for the Thunder’s Nov. 21 show down with Blake Griffin and the LA Clippers, a case of FineLine Monterey Chardonnay, artwork from Darshan Phillips and Linda Coward, a children’s bicycle and helmet from Lee’s Bicycles, a Firehouse Dinner for six prepared and served by Tulsa firefighters in a local fire station, and a Mexican dinner for up to 10 prepared by Father David Medina and served at the St. Francis Xavier rectory.

Tax-deductible tickets are $75.00 per person. For more information and to purchase tickets, please call 918-633-1934 or purchase tickets online here.

Kendall-Whittier West Park Project Underway

George Kaiser Family Foundation Executive Director Ken Levit talks about the start of construction for the Kendall-Whittier West Park project on Tuesday. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World

George Kaiser Family Foundation Executive Director Ken Levit talks about the start of construction for the Kendall-Whittier West Park project on Tuesday. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World

By MIKE AVERILL World Staff Writer
Published: 8/8/2012  2:24 AM
Last Modified: 8/8/2012  8:02 AM

Construction is under way on the Kendall-Whittier West Park project, part of a $36 million investment into the neighborhood.

The project includes 128 mixed-income housing units, 20 student housing units and 7,000 square feet of retail and management space as well as the renovation of the existing neighborhood park.

The project is funded by the George Kaiser Family Foundation, the University of Tulsa, the City of Tulsa, state low-income tax credits and outside financing secured by McCormack Baron Salazar, a national developer that specializes in revitalizing economically distressed urban areas.

The city’s portion was $5.9 million for stormwater, water and sanitary infrastructure improvements.

Ken Levit, executive director of the George Kaiser Family Foundation, said the neighborhood is a vital part of Tulsa.

“In the ’60s ’70s and ’80s, it fell on difficult times. In the last several years, the community and its neighbors have worked block by block, house by house, to build it into a stronger neighborhood,” he said. “This is decades of planning and working together to improve, revitalize and strengthen the community.”

Levit said the project will provide affordable housing in a neighborhood with an Educare center, an elementary school and university that together create “a pipeline from birth to college to career.”

“One of the significant challenges we’ve identified in the area is a lack of safe, affordable, quality housing. The objective of the West Park master plan is to achieve this goal and continue to support the neighborhood revitalization in the Kendall-Whittier area,” he said.

Mayor Dewey Bartlett said West Park is an example of the city’s investment in urban development following the guidelines of PlaniTulsa.

“We as a city saw this area several years ago ripe for decay,” Bartlett said.

He said normally the area would most likely be taken over by the city and bulldozed and made into a park.

“It would become an island surrounded by bad things,” he said, adding that this approach creates a “life ring” for the neighborhood.

“This is an example I hope to see replicated throughout the city time after time after time,” he said.

Construction is going on between Lewis and Atlanta avenues across the street from Kendall-Whittier Park, 2645 E. Fifth Street.

The project includes 20 graduate-student apartments, a fitness room and a community hall.

“This is an enormously useful addition for TU,” said TU President Geoffrey Orsak. “This is a truly remarkable urban renewal project.”

The university will also handle park maintenance when the project is complete. The project is expected to be complete in late summer of 2013.