The City of Edmond and the University of Oklahoma have done a good job of establishing connections, said Paris Rutherford, principal at Catalyst Urban Development, located in Dallas.
Not only what is on the campus of the University of Central Oklahoma, but what surrounds the campus will attract students and employees to UCO, while retaining the best and the brightest, Rutherford said to a group of city leaders and business men and women.
The Central Edmond Urban Development Board has revisited plans made in a 1998 Downtown Master Plan through public meetings and presentations.
“If you have that campus corner — I know I’ve heard a lot of people talk about that — obviously that is something that resonates with a student or a faculty member because it’s nice,” Rutherford said.
The Jazz Lab is one example of how UCO reaches out to the community, Rutherford said. More creative partnerships to connect the Central Business district with the UCO campus are worth the effort, he said.
The University of Central Oklahoma has 17,239 students and is the state’s third-largest university. If part of its goal is to attract students and employees, it might consider building more housing on campus, Rutherford said.
“I can imagine a situation where there’s some housing that makes a connection like that,” Rutherford said.
Central Oklahoma Vice President Myron Pope said Thursday that student housing is something the university continues to consider in terms of having more students on campus.
“It benefits our retention rate and certainly it just increases the overall sense of community with the connection to the institution,” Pope said. The discussion also wants to avoid burdening students in terms of cost, he said.
Campbell Street is a direct path to UCO, he said. So Campbell and other streets have been part of the philosophical discussion of downtown and UCO, he said.
“Are there some options there in terms of mixed use housing and other creative options so we create that corridor, that connection to campus, while at the same time creating that connection to downtown something that would be of interest to students,” Pope said.
Housing and restaurants are the two most important things to spark employment in a urban area, Rutherford said.
The next step will be studying recommendations for specific types of development on key areas of ground, said Wendy Shabay, an associate urban planner with Freese Nichols.