About Our Organization
The Plaza District Association is a 501c3 organization that has been working to revitalize NW 16th in Oklahoma City since 1997. Over the last 15 years, the district has risen out of intolerable crime and disrepair into a hub of creativity and a haven for local business. A neighborhood once threatened is now thriving, and historic buildings have been renovated for new, creative uses. The work of the association that began as meetings in living rooms, weed pulling on the weekends and dragging friends to a street festival has now blossomed with over 15 million dollars in investment, 32 thriving businesses, property values on the rise and crime rates falling quickly.
The association has accomplished this work through focused efforts in building capacity for our organization, promotion of the district, economic development and public space. With a dedicated Board of Directors, a passionate staff and a visionary group of business owners and volunteers, 16th Street is shaping into Oklahoma City’s emerging district for the arts and local business. Community is at the heart of this work, and engaging our neighbors, the business community, the art community and our local government has resulted in making the Plaza District a place where people want to be.
As a small, grassroots organization, it is imperative the association maintain effective and professional non-profit operations. As our district has grown, so has the responsibilities of our organization and we are constantly evolving to adjust to that growth and prepare for the future. Though our accomplishments over the last 15 years have been great, we still press on the challenges that remain in building our community to be the best it can be. The strength of our organization will carry that progress, and we continue to shape the operations and programs of the association to the excellence we hope to see on 16th Street.
The Plaza District Association works to develop the Plaza District as a vibrant commercial district where arts, local business and neighborhood community thrives. This mission is achieved by:
- promoting the district to a wide audience through events and marketing
- encouraging investment in the district through property and business location
- working with the City of Oklahoma City to address the needs of the district
- engaging the neighborhood and community to support the progress of the district
- creating place and opportunity for the community to interact with the arts and artists
In the 1920s a commercial niche formed along NW 16th Street between Blackwelder and Indiana Avenues. This development was in response to the area’s location at the end of the trolley line as well as the growth of neighborhoods around the district. With the addition of the Plaza Theatre in the mid-1930s, the area became known as the Plaza District.
Throughout the 1950s and 60s, the area remained economically viable holding neighborhood needs such as drugstores, cleaners and shopping. However, considerable changes occurred from the 1970s to the 1990s as the area began a slow and steady decline. Population demographics shifted, the commercial area diminished and crime rates rose.
Thankfully, neighborhood residents and volunteers stepped up to spearhead the Plaza District revitalization, and now the Plaza District Association continues to work to restore the area as a thriving district in Oklahoma City.
Kristen Vails, Executive Director
Chris Nguyen, District Communications Coordinator
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
President, Kristen Torkelson
Vice President, Randy Cassimus
Secretary, Ashley Terry
Treasurer, Edward Granger
Business Liasion, Kenny Deason
Mary Ann Osko
Emily Rothrock Tate